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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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PBS president says endimg federal funding would mean end of some PBS stations

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - Not surprisingly, PBS president Paula Kerger is once again expressing concerns about funding. Specifically, a proposal in Congress to end all PBS funding by 2015.

"I'm not sure there's a press tour that I haven't talked about this issue," she told members of the Television Critics Association. "It just seems to continue to come back, which is disappointing to me because [of] the value that the American people place on public broadcasting."

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She also pointed to "the irony that in the same week that we're awarded 58 Emmy nominations" the issue of "whether a federal investment in public broadcasting" was raised again.

Not exactly sure members of Congress are all that impressed with Emmy nominations, but ...

The proposal would also end federal funding to National Public Radio.

"I know that a number of viewers around the country have begun to reach out to legislators just expressing their concern," Kerger said. "And at the end of the day, as eloquent a spokesperson as I aspire to be for public broadcasting, I know that it's really not my voice or that of anyone within public broadcasting that is going to make a difference. It's really the voice of constituents."

The federal government provides about 15 percent of PBS' budget, but it's an important 15 percent, Kerger said.

"The money that comes into public broadcasting actually goes to our stations across the country," Kerger said. "And in parts of the country, particularly in rural areas, the amount of the federal appropriation that is supporting those stations could be as high as 40 or 50 percent.

"If that funding was to go away, there are a number of stations that would go dark. And there are a number of stations in parts of the country where the services that the public television and the public radio stations provide are so critical. And that's really what's at risk."

Losing that money would also leave larger-market stations "challenged," she said. "It certainly would have an impact on our ability to create and showcase the kind of programming that we proudly bring to you every year. But I think the real implications for us as a country is that it would eliminate public broadcasting in areas where I know it's tremendously used."

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