What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Equal Access to the Airwaves/Broadcast Media : HR 2997. (Fiscal 2010 agriculture spending) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would remove $5 million for grants to public educational TV stations that serve rural areas/On agreeing to the amendment (2009 senate Roll Call 258)
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HR 2997. (Fiscal 2010 agriculture spending) Coburn of Oklahoma amendment that would remove $5 million for grants to public educational TV stations that serve rural areas/On agreeing to the amendment
senate Roll Call 258     Aug 04, 2009
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Tom Coburn, R-Okla., that would have removed $5 million in grants to non-commercial educational TV stations serving rural communities.  Coburn’s amendment would only affect entities that were qualified to receive grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  The amendment was offered to the bill that funds agriculture programs in fiscal 2010.

Coburn said the funding is being used to help rural public stations upgrade in time for the transition to all-digital television signals.  But Coburn said the government already has three separate programs for the transition, and that the administration has said they don’t need any money from the Agriculture Department for it.

“They say we have plenty of money in CPB to do everything that is needed with the translator stations this year. We are 92 percent complete on everything that has been translated. This is similar to every government program. They never die. Not only do we have the Department of Commerce that is going to have additional funding this year for that very same thing, we have the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The fact is, they want it to go through the Agriculture Department because there is more control. We can direct it,” Coburn said.

Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said rural public TV stations are at an “extreme disadvantage when faced with the task of converting their stations and vast network of translators from analog to digital transmission. Why? Because they are spread over a larger geographic area—private and some of the network stations—and they have a much smaller population base to draw upon when funding system improvements than their urban counterparts. Urban stations have a bigger population base.”

By a vote of 37-60, the amendment was rejected.  Of Republicans present, 31 voted for the amendment and nine voted against it.  All but five Democrats present voted against the amendment.  The end result is that the measure went forward with funding for grants to rural public TV stations to assist with the transition to digital TV signals.

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