MPT is at risk

February 17, 2011

Public television stations, including Maryland Public Television (MPT), are America's largest classroom. Federal funding provides is vital for MPT, which is locally owned and operated. Those funds support educational programming with content often not given needed attention by commercial broadcasting stations.

This week, public broadcasting faces withdrawal of support by opponents in Congress. This action would be a serious mistake. Maryland Public Television has a $29 million annual budget, of which less than 10 percent comes from federal appropriations. The remaining 90 percent comes from a variety of non-Federal sources, including:

•members most of whom give annually

•grants from foundations and corporate donors

•state of Maryland funding that encourages individual and private donations

Legislation to eliminate funding for public broadcasting overlooks the value that Maryland Public Broadcasting and other PBS member stations provide the public, including parents and their children. Educational programming is at the heart of the interesting and responsible television provided by Maryland Public Television and other public/donor supported stations throughout our country.

Let us all ask Maryland's members of Congress to step up to the plate and continue to support its fiscally responsible and relatively small level of support for public broadcasting .

George S. Wills, Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the board of the Maryland Public Television Foundation.

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