Head of PBS On Future of Public Media, Threats to Funding

Credit: Rob Widdis

PBS President & CEO Paula Kerger

President Donald Trump’s first-ever budget proposal would eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

CPB gives financial support to public radio stations like WDET and public television stations such as Detroit Public TV.

It’s a significant portion of any station’s budget. For WDETit’s about eight percent, and an even larger portion of the station’s programming budget.

But for smaller public radio and public TV stations, it could be the difference between being able to broadcast and being forced to go off the air entirely. Some of those stations are the only source of local news, especially in rural areas.

A recent viral video shows a sad Elmo from Sesame Street being told he’s fired.

Paula Kerger is the president & CEO of PBS. She was in town recently and told Detroit Today producer Laura Weber-Davis that public media is different in a broad media landscape for many people because it feels personal.

The public actually believes they own public media, which they do,” says Kerger. “Every time we have had any threat to funding, people have risen up and let their voices be heard.”

With the tools that are available now, through social media and so forth, it has been striking to see what people have done… We’ve seen cartoons, we’ve seen memes, we’ve seen all kinds of material out there.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Credit: Rob Widdis

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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