WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- Cutting federal funding for public broadcasting would cost thousands of jobs and "harm millions of Americans who rely on us," NPR's interim chief said Friday.
The real question isn't whether public broadcasting can survive without federal funding but what the cost will be if it loses it, Joyce Slocum wrote in a commentary published by The Hill.
The House Thursday passed a bill that would defund public broadcasting on a 228-192 vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., didn't say whether the Senate would take up the legislation but indicated he didn't support it, The Hill reported.
"Public radio and the top-notch journalists it employs are valuable resources to people of all ages across the country and I can't understand why Republicans would want to take that away from them," Reid said in a statement.
The White House said the administration "strongly opposes" the bill.
"Eliminating federal funding would seriously damage public broadcasting and harm millions of Americans who rely on us. Period," Slocum wrote, saying it would mean fewer stations, fewer programs, less news produced and the elimination of thousands of jobs.
Defunding public radio "would cause a significant number of small NPR member stations to turn off their microphones, shut down their transmitters and close the door permanently," she said.
NPR's success can be partially attributed to the investment made by Congress and the public in public media and leveraging that investment to build other sources, such as listeners, corporate underwriters and philanthropic entities, Slocum said.
Public radio sometimes is the only radio station available in some rural areas and provides a "communications lifeline" during natural disasters and emergencies, she said.
"With the nation facing continuing economic uncertainty, it is both right and necessary to scrutinize all federal spending," Slocum said. "But if the public value for the money spent is the prism through which spending decisions are made, public broadcasting is a strong investment in America's future."