‘Stimulus investment in public media’ proposed to Obama

by Steve Behrens and Dru Sefton, Current Online

CPB, NPR and PBS, in consultation with APTS, have asked President-elect Obama to include $550 million for noncommercial public-service media in his far larger package of spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. The groups' joint letter (pdf), sent Jan. 2, suggests federal aid for six projects involving public radio and TV that will create jobs and “produce sustainable improvements to the nation’s communications infrastructure.”

The request is one of a number sent to Obama’s transition team by nonprofits, following up on his campaign promise to create a “social investment fund network.”

Public service media “stand ready to serve and respond to an increasingly diverse America in ways that are both innovative and inclusive,” the leaders assure Obama.

The letter proposes these areas for “a stimulus investment in public media”:

  • The last item in the list amounts to an urgent plea: “Support for station capacity” in a year when pubcasting stations could lose $300 million in revenues according to “preliminary estimates,” putting 1,000 station jobs at risk, the letter said.
  • National Public Lightpath, a proposed “super-high-speed” interconnection of schools, nonprofits and government agencies using lightwaves over optical fiber cables. Construction would create 1,800 jobs for a year plus additional jobs in manufacturing; operation would create 270 permanent jobs.
    American Archive, which would preserve, index and clear rights for access to “billions of dollars worth” of historically significant public TV and radio programs. The work would create hundreds of jobs, the letters says.
  • A preschool Teach for America program, focused on 100 economically troubled communities, to train teachers and caregivers to use new-media-based educational tools to teach young children how to read. This would create 200 education positions at stations.
  • Building a crisis-response capability in 75 communities and creating about 750 positions, including producers and community-engagement staffers. KETC’s CPB-supported work with the mortgage foreclosure issue in St. Louis, is given as an example.
  • Access 2.0, a campaign to expand media access to new voices, including startup staffing of 30 planned Native American pubradio stations that received FM licenses during the past year. This would create several hundred positions at local public media institutions and several hundred more outside of stations, the letter estimates.
article originally published at http://www.current.org/funding/funding0901stimulus.shtml.

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