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Originally published February 13, 2011 at 4:00 PM | Page modified February 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM

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Congress should keep hands off Public Broadcasting

House Republicans take aim once again at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's funding. Oooh. Bad idea.

THE worst recession in 80 years and a bloated deficit means the federal government has to cut its spendy ways. But budget cutting is best done with a surgical knife, not a billy club.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are considering defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Around here, that would translate into reduced support for KUOW-FM, KPLU-FM and other public radio stations in the state, and PBS stations KCTS Channel Nine, KSPS Spokane and KWSU in Pullman.

This annoying hardy perennial proposal from Republicans is no wiser this time around than it was when it was presented and beaten back many times before.

In fact, with a decline in the total number of reporters, also known as watchdogs, and a reduced number of media outlets presenting news and public affairs, there is more need than ever for high-quality programming, or as KCTS President Moss Bresnahan calls it, "the best our culture has to offer."

If you get out your remote and flip through the hundreds of cable stations, you might come to a different conclusion. You might say, who needs PBS when there are hundreds of other channels? We all need PBS, NPR and numerous local public radio and TV stations. They help educate our children. They enrich us culturally and provide community connections not available anywhere else.

More than half of all Americans use public media every month, connecting through 368 public television stations and 934 public radio stations. We can all cite our favorites, from "Sesame Street" to "NOVA" to "PBS NewsHour" (with Jim Lehrer) to "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Prairie Home Companion."

High-quality local TV programming might feature the Seattle Art Museum's recent Picasso exhibit or showcase, as a future documentary will do, the 1962 Seattle World's Fair. Where else can you get that kind of programming?

Dialing back public funding for public radio and TV would be a shortsighted move. Congress should leave the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the unique programs it funds alone.

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