This PBS Program Paid for by... Nobody!
Date Added: April 17, 2003
This petition to save funding for public broadcasting and the arts has been circulating on the 'net since 1995. Though it was relatively ineffective then, it has formed the basis of similar outrage a decade later.
None of us should ignore this petition to help save NPR and PBS
To prevent the termination of NPR and PBS, please sign and send this petition as described below.
On NPR's Morning Edition last week, Nina Totenberg said that if the Supreme Court supports Congress, it is in effect the end of the National Public Radio (NPR), NEA & the Public Broadcasting System PBS). PBS, NPR and the arts are facing major cutbacks in funding. In spite of the efforts of each station to reduce spending costs and streamline their services, some government officials believe that the funding currently going to these programs is too large a portion of funding for something which is seen as not worthwhile. Currently, taxes from the general public for PBS equal $1.12 per person per year, and the National Endowment for the Arts equals $. 64 a year. A January 1995 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicated that 76% of Americans wish to keep funding for PBS, third only to national defense and law enforcement as the most valuable programs for federal funding. The Senate and House appropriations committees each have 13 subcommittees with jurisdiction over many programs and agencies. Each subcommittee passes its own appropriation bill. The goal each year is to have each bill signed by the beginning of the fiscal year, which is October 1. The only way that our representatives can be aware of the base of support for PBS and funding for these types of programs is by making our voices heard. Please add your name to this list and forward it to friends who believe in what this stands for. This list will be forwarded to the President of the United States and the Vice President of the United States. This petition is being passed around the Internet. Please add your name to it so that funding can be maintained for the NEA, NPR & PBS.
HOW TO SIGN & FORWARD: IT'S EASY:
If you sign, please forward on to others. If not, please don't kill it- send it to the email address listed here: firstname.lastname@example.org NOTE: If you happen to be the 150th, 200th, 250th, etc., signer of this petition, please forward a copy to: email@example.com This way we can keep track of the lists and organize them. Forward this to everyone you know, and help us to keep these programs alive.Thank you!
NOTE: It is preferable that you SELECT (highlight) the entirety of this letter and then COPY it into a new outgoing message, rather than simply forwarding it. In your new outgoing message, add your name to the bottom of the list, then send it on. Or if option is available, do a SEND AGAIN.
(LIST OF NAMES, TOWNS, AND ZIP CODES DELETED)
In 1995, funding for NPR, NEA and PBS did, indeed, appear in danger of catastrophic cuts as then House Speaker Newt Gingrich tried to "zero out" funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In response, two students from the University of Northern Colorado decided to use the apparent power and reach of e-mail to counter what they viewed as a mistake by unenlightened legislators.
Unfortunately, they chose the wrong venue for their protest - UNC did not endorse their petition and the students failed to ask permission to use the school's resources to run it. As a result, the school shut down any student e-mail address associated with this petition shortly after the first few thousand replies began pouring in. The so-called petition was rendered useless within days because nobody was collecting it. On top of that, the feared cuts proposed by Gingrich never came.
Fast forward to June, 2005, when, according to a Washington Post column, the House Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services and education voted to "sharply reduce" federal support for public broadcasting and eliminate all federal funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting within two years, beginning with a 25 percent cut next year. Immediately, rumors of a conservative plot to eliminate the traditionally liberal public broadcasting machine began circulating.
Understandably, House spokespeople have denied any partisan motivation and cite only an interest in controlling the budget through the most efficient means. Nonetheless, left-leaning online advocacy groups, such as MoveOn.org, launched campaigns to head off the House subcommittee's move, hedging their bets on people's recognition of the 1995 effort, which never really went away:
Subject: This time, it's for real: Save NPR and PBS
You know that email petition that keeps circulating about how Congress is slashing funding for NPR and PBS? Well, now it's actually true. (Really. Check at the bottom if you don't believe me.)
Sign the petition telling Congress to save NPR and PBS:
A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch.
The cuts would slash 25% of the federal funding this year—$100 million—and end funding altogether within two years. The loss could kill beloved children's shows like "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Arthur," and "Postcards from Buster." Rural stations and those serving low-income communities might not survive. Other stations would have to increase corporate sponsorships.
Already, 300,000 people have signed the petition. Can you help us reach 400,000 signatures today?
P.S. Read the Washington Post report on the threat to NPR and PBS at:
The subcommittee's decision is not the death knoll for PBS or NPR, however. The budget process is ongoing and the Senate, which has traditionally supported public broadcasting, still has a say in the matter.
Even though the MoveOn.org petition is slightly more reliable and valid than the 1995 UNC version, BreakTheChain.org recommends strongly against signing this, or any online petition. Their effectiveness simply has not been proven and too many examples exist of petitions that were either unfounded, misinformed or flat-out wrong.
Further, I have seen too many instances of online advocacy groups using similar petitions to increase their membership rolls. Sometimes, these petitions seem more focused on gathering names and addresses than on actually effecting change. At the very least, expect to receive much more mail from MoveOn.org if you sign this petition.
Rather than giving your personal information to a third party to act on your behalf, BreakTheChain.org recommends addressing a personal letter to your congressional representatives to tell them your thoughts on the issue. A list of subcommittee members is available here. Another way to show your support for public broadcasting is through direct donations to your local stations. Find out how to pledge your support at the PBS web site. Break this chain.
References: About.com, Subcommitte Report: Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill, Washington Post