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Trump's Budget Proposal Can Mean Public Broadcasting Cuts in Central Illinois

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President Trump's proposed budget calls for big cuts to domestic problems include public broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been supporting stations like PBS and NPR for many years including WILL Illinois Public Media in Urbana. The station has been serving central Illinois for nearly 90 years and thousands of people have been tuning in to its public radio and television station for many of those years.

The station’s director of community content and engagement, Kimberli Kranich said the cut in funding won't just affect people locally, but across the country.

“We have thousands of resources -- because we are a PBS station -- that we can give both teachers, students and the general community,” Kranich said.

Under Trump's proposed budget plan, federal funding for the CPB would be cut to zero which means the lights could go out for many local radio and TV stations.

“Our mission is driven by the need to serve the public,” Kranich said. “We're trying to provide an educational, arts and culture and public affairs content. You don't have to have cable or a satellite to reach our signals, so we're in rural areas, urban areas and everywhere.”

The station offers a variety of content including gardening, news, agriculture and 24-hour PBS kids broadcasting channel.

“I think it's devastating. I grew up on PBS,” local mother Catherine Best-Popescu said. “Everybody I’ve ever baby sat watched PBS and I still love PBS, you can't replace Big Bird or Ernie and Bert.”

Best-Popescu’s 10-year-old daughter, Sophia Popescu said PBS is one of her favorite channels.

“I love Sesame Street, I still do actually,” Popescu said. “I think if PBS were to go I would be really disappointed and everybody else around the world would be too.”

About 40 percent of WILL’s funding comes from donations.

“Federal funding for public broadcasting is between 450 to 500 million dollars annually,” Kranich said. “That's less than $1.35 per American, that's a very small amount and that amount is not going to balance the budget. Taking that amount away is not going to get us out of our deficit hole.”

The budget proposal has yet to be voted on. WILL said for those who want to help support the funding of public broadcasting, give local representatives a call and voice opinions.

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