Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 8:01 pm

To the Editor,

Congress will take a critical vote in the next few days to eliminate federal support for local public broadcasting. The vote is part of complicated negotiations over the federal budget and the very real need to bring the national debt under control. On a national level, the question about the budget really comes down to some very basic questions about priorities. What do we believe in as a country?   

At this critical moment, we should think about what it would mean to cut funding for public broadcasting. What do you lose if the government cuts funding for local public television and radio stations. 

You lose the shows that expanded your mind as a child, the documentaries that opened up new worlds to you as a student, the non-commercialized PBS news programs that keep you informed on world events and cultures, and programs that expose you to the worlds of music, theater, dance and art as an adult. At the cost of only about $1 per person per year. Is it worth the loss? PBS and its member stations are America’s largest classroom, providing educational content that is available to all of America’s children, including those who can’t attend preschool. Research shows children gain valuable skills through our programs, including measurable improvement in literacy score, and children who watched SESAME STREET obtain higher grades in English, math, and science. In our community, West Tennessee children benefit from our children’s programming and classroom content. 

For many Americans, PBS is their only opportunity to see a Broadway show, visit a National Park, or have a front row seat at a popular music concert. At a time when funding for music and arts within our schools is being cut, PBS is helping to keep the arts alive today and for generations to come by ensuring that the worlds of music, theater, dance and art remain available to all. 

The American public has named PBS the most trusted institution among nationally known organizations for seven consecutive years. Most importantly, the American people believe in federal funding for public broadcasting: polls show that Americans rank PBS second only to military defense as an excellent use of their tax dollars.

America rightly prides itself as the land of opportunity. We are the nation that encourages people to achieve their full potential. And we should be the country that continues to fund public broadcasting, even in these tough economic times. Public broadcasting is an essential part of who we are as a country, because only public broadcasting gives everyone access to non-commercialized programming that educates, informs and inspires. 

Monica Shumake

General Manager & CEO WLJT-DT, Public Television for 

West Tennessee

wcp 2/22/11

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