Massive budget shortfalls, vicious in-fighting and a power shift in Washington. Make no mistake, public media is facing the biggest ever threat to its existence.
This time, the haters are deadly serious. And they have timing on their side.
At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and the future of such popular programs as "Nova," "This American Life" and "Sesame Street."
And while public media has long been a favorite target for Republican lawmakers, the mounting federal deficit -- coupled with a series of PR blunders -- mean that threats to slash government aid to non-profit stations are no longer just idle boasting.
Should the government turn off the spigot, National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting Service will likely have enough corporate and donor support to limp along, but jobs will be lost and popular shows will have to be canceled. On a local level, some of the thousands of public television and radio stations will almost certainly have to close up shop.
Broadcast veterans and analysts say that the Republican party’s newfound control of congress may spell the end of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- the organization that distributes parts of the federal largesse to non-profit media.
CPB has requested $608 million for its next funding cycle, which begins in 2013. So far, the current constellation of Republicans in the House and Senate do not seem inclined to grant that request. Armed with the backing of President Obama’s deficit reduction committee, congressional leaders are gunning for the CPB and its $420 million budget. Funding from the CPB accounts on average for 15 percent of funding for the more than 1,100 public radio and television stations around the country