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Trump Budget Calls for Eliminating Funding for Public Broadcasting

Variety logo Variety 3/16/2017 Ted Johnson
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President Trump is proposing to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides federal support for public broadcasting, as part of a budget package that makes massive cuts across government agencies while increasing defense spending by $54 billion.

The White House will unveil details of a budget outline on Thursday morning, but officials briefed reporters on the plans earlier on Wednesday.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with an appropriation that has hovered around $445 million in recent years, provides funding for NPR and PBS, but the bulk of its grants go to individual stations. Advocates for public broadcasting say that stations in smaller- and medium-sized markets are especially dependent on the money for their operations.

Trump’s proposed cuts also include eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as Varietyreported earlier on Wednesday.

The cuts had been expected, as groups like America’s Public Television Stations, an advocacy organization for federal funding for public broadcasting, have been lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill for weeks. Reports surfaced in January that Trump’s administration was eyeing such cuts.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters that the budget will “shrink the role of government.”

Advocates for public broadcasting believe that the severe cuts to public broadcasting and the arts will be reversed on Capitol Hill. They point to past instances where the White House has proposed eliminating public broadcasting funding, only to see it restored as Congress came up with budget legislation.

Meanwhile, arts advocates are planning to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill early next week.

Ovation TV, the arts channel, announced a new campaign called Stand for the Arts to press for lawmakers to retain funding. Among the groups aligned with the effort are the Alvin Alley Dance Theater, Americans for the Arts, Film Independent, and American Ballet Theatre.

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