US Rep. Scott Perry wants to defund public broadcasting - TAI News
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Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Feb. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry introduced a bill on April 17 to eliminate all federal support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the government-supported nonprofit that provides funding to public radio and television stations across the country. Two days later, he signed on as an original co-sponsor of a bill to end federal funding for National Public Radio and any other public radio content. 

Perry, a member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus who participated in several strategy calls connected with former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory, is facing a tough reelection race against Democratic candidate and former central Pennsylvania television anchor Janelle Stelson. 

“Perry’s seat is definitely creeping its way into the swing-district category,” Harrsburg-based pollster James Lee told the New York Times on  April 26.

Republican lawmakers have long wanted to eliminate federal funding for NPR, the Public Broadcasting System, and local public broadcasters. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney received negative headlines and popular opposition when he said in a 2012 debate that, despite his admiration for the character Big Bird from the children’s public television show “Sesame Street,” he would end public subsidies to PBS. A national poll in 2017 found 73% of voters (and 62% of Republican voters) opposed defunding public television.

Perry calls his bill the No Propaganda Act and accuses the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of being biased.

“The American Taxpayer is footing the bill for a woke media corporation that pretends to be impartial while pushing Chinese propaganda,” he said in a press release. “CPB cannot be allowed to keep using your hard-earned tax dollars to push a biased and political agenda that goes against what’s best for Americans.”

“I know that there’s a lot of programming that a lot of people like, and if the Corporation for Public Broadcasting wants to continue with that, I suggest that they go out, find sponsors, raise money like everybody else, and continue on that mission,” he said in an April 24 radio interview.

“NPR made promoting DEI ‘…not only a moral imperative but a foundation of its business strategy.’ Once again we see that NPR isn’t remotely committed to unbiased coverage, but woke and weaponized propaganda,” he tweeted that day. “Your hardworking tax dollars should not be funding this garbage.”

Surveys have shown, however, that Americans see PBS and NPR as reliable sources of news. 

An annual PBS poll in 2023 found that 74% of adults picked PBS as the nation’s most trusted government or media institution and 64% said its stations “provide an excellent value to communities” for the tax dollars they receive. Its PBS KIDS education programming was deemed “safe and trusted” by 85% of parents.

Perry’s proposals are unlikely to become law this year with a Democratic Senate majority and public broadcasting supporter Biden in the White House. But if they did, their impacts would be felt across Pennsylvania.

According to Pennsylvania PBS, its television stations and their NPR radio affiliates serve the Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Bethlehem, State College, Pittsburgh, Erie, and Scranton media markets. In total, it estimates that 12.4 million people tune in to their programming.

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The Pennsylvania Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.