Local public broadcast stations tense over talk of cuts

Local Arts and Funding Cuts

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Trump administration has proposed cutting more than $440 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and that has managers of three local stations worried. They say if the cuts go through, it will have a big impact on their operations.

At WYES, years of construction show results, but there's a new threat to the progress being made.

"Could it mean cuts? Potentially, but too early to say," said WYES Vice President of Development Robin Cooper.

The Trump administration proposed eliminating all funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an entity that provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to local TV stations like WYES, WLAE and radio station WWNO.

"We get about 9 percent of our budget from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and it supports a lot of what we do like music rights," said WWNO-FM General Manager Paul Maassen. "It measures about 7.8% of our budget, and it would be a hit if we lose that funding."

At WLAE  studios in Elmwood, General Manager Ron Yaeger said he is also concerned about the possible of cuts to the CPB, but he said he's seen this before. He said threats of cuts are common, specially when there's a new president.

"It's certainly a concern, but it's also about education of a new administration," Cooper said.

"It feels different this time around, like there's a lot of momentum for these kinds of discussions going on," said Maassen.

President Donald Trump's budget director said it's getting harder and harder to justify spending money for public broadcasting, especially in a budget that he said is designed to put the military first.

"This budget reallocates spending, just as a family will do," said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.

Affected stations are urging the public to speak out in support of their programs.

"You can sign a petition to let your voice be heard," said Cooper.

"When you take money away from public broadcasting, you hurt stations like WWNO, and we think it's very, very important," said Maassen.

They are hoping that when it's all said and done, Congress and the president will see the benefit of what they do, especially when it comes to programming for the very young and the very old.

The Trump budget also calls for eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. That $300 million was often considered a lifeline to musicians and artists.

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