Public-television officials are scrambling to fend off—or take advantage of—the sudden media spotlight turned on by Mitt Romney’s pledge during last week’s presidential debate to eliminate federal funding for PBS if he is elected president, writes The New York Times.
The Republican candidate said during the Oct. 3 debate that he would “stop the subsidy to PBS,” despite his fondness for the “Sesame Street” iconic character Big Bird, a joking reference that set off a volley of sarcastic Obama campaign ads. The sparring recalled the frequent jousts in Congress over financing public TV and radio.
Paula A. Kerger, PBS’s chief executive, said she could not recall a more direct or public statement by a presidential candidate against support for the system. National and regional public broadcasting officials said they have postponed or canceled meetings and trips to grapple with the sudden spotlight but said it could focus public attention on the relatively little support PBS gets from federal coffers.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting received $445-million from the government this year, about 0.01 percent of the federal budget. Most went directly to local television and radio stations.