‘We’re in trouble,’ and he means
Moyers' program an issue with McCain, Hollings warns
South Carolina Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings warned pubcasters that the upcoming Senate reauthorization of the Public Broadcasting Act will be a tough fight. "We’re in trouble," said Hollings, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee.
During a Jan. 11  luncheon at the National Educational Telecommunications Association Conference in New Orleans, Hollings suggested that public TV will take hits for the PBS series Now with Bill Moyers. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) views Moyers, the program's host and editor, as "the most partisan and non-objective fellow in journalism," Hollings said.
Republicans' goal is to reduce government and "public TV sticks out because of the success of commercial TV," he told NETA conference attendees.
McCain has frequently criticized public TV programs for bias and questioned
the need for federal aid to the field. His press secretary did not return
a call seeking comment.
Hollings praised station representatives for their dedication and professionalism in carrying out public TV's mission. "You folks have kept the faith, there's no question about it." Pubcasting's service to the nation lends credibility to his efforts, along with those of Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), to protect public broadcasting on the Hill, he said.
"The reauthorization is going to be tough, but we'll go in and tell the story that you've been telling," he added. The Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees CPB, is slated to take up the reauthorization in March, according to APTS, but a committee spokesperson said no hearings have been scheduled.
During the luncheon, APTS President John Lawson and NETA Chairman Deb Onslow saluted Hollings for his contributions to the field. During his 1959-1963 term as South Carolina's governor, Hollings backed the development of South Carolina Educational Television. As a senator, Hollings was a "progressive and forward-thinking advocate for the Public Broadcasting Act at its creation," Lawson said. "He has played an irreplaceable role in the direction and growth of public TV."
CPB Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson gave Hollings a replacement for the Ralph Lowell medal that was lost in a fire in Hollings' home. CPB had given the senator its highest public TV honor in 1988. Tomlinson described the senator as designated by the "Almighty" to lead the charge for public broadcasting on Capitol Hill.
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