Senate Hearing on Public Broadcasting Today

Common Cause on Tuesday was scheduled to present to the Senate Commerce Committee more than 52,000 petition signatures from Americans who are concerned with maintaining the integrity and editorial independence of public broadcasting.

“For many citizens, public broadcasting remains one of the few sources of independent, substantive news and commentary that they can count on at a time when it is increasingly harder to get past the clutter and partisanship on commercial TV and radio,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree said in a statement. “We urge this committee, and the full Senate, not to play politics with public broadcasting.”

The occasion for presenting the signatures was a hearing on the reauthorization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the body that administers federal funding to public broadcast stations. The hearing provides an opportunity for opponents and supporters of public broadcasting to make their voices heard.

Common Cause urged the Senate to pass reforms to change to a less partisan manner the way CPB members are chosen. Common Cause also urged Senators to clarify that CPB’s mission to ensure “balanced” programming does not mean that CPB board members, or members of Congress, can meddle in programming decisions or demand that ideology replace solid journalism on the public broadcasting schedule.

Common Cause for the past several months has been circulating a national petition, and the collected signatures were to be entered into the official record at Tuesday’s hearing as evidence of your strong support for independent public broadcasting, and for the continued financial support of the CPB. If you haven’t already signed the petition, please sign it today so your voice can be added to the over 52,000 people who have signed it so far!

The next step in the process is the actual reauthorization of the bill. We are still very concerned that foes of public broadcasting will attach amendments to the reauthorizing legislation that could impact the editorial control of public broadcasting, as well as how it is funded. This must not happen.

The CPB was set up for the express purpose of insulating public broadcasting from government intrusion into program content. We must fight to uphold the ideals of the visionaries – including Common Cause founder, John Gardner – who first promoted the idea of a public broadcasting system that was free to present hard-hitting investigative journalism without the threat of political or corporate pressure.

A live web cast of the Tuesday morning hearing is available at

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