Public TV advocate: GOP will help protect broadcast funds

Various Republicans have supported public broadcasting in the past. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), for example, served as co-chair of the Public Broadcasting Caucus in the last Congress. 

Eighty-seven Republicans voted in favor of public media funding when it came to a vote in 2005. That included House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and Communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.). 

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Precedent aside, Butler acknowledges that this year is different, after promises to cut spending helped sweep Republicans back into power. 

"It's different precisely because of the size of the federal budget deficit," he said. "People are looking at everything they can possibly find to cut. It's understandable."

Though Butler says he is "optimistic," spending taxpayer money on NPR and PBS has not exactly attracted a lineup of vocal Republican advocates in the 112th.

House Republicans unanimously approved a spending measure that would have eliminated all federal broadcasting dollars. The House GOP also voted unanimously last Congress to defund NPR. 

Democrats have been vocal about defending public broadcasting, and President Obama did not make any cuts to public media in his fiscal year 2012 budget request.

Public broadcasting's left-leaning reputation has done little to endear it to Republicans. Butler argued, however, that public stations have strong journalistic credibility. 

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"There are always people will allege that the coverage is too biased in one way or another, but the fact is, public broadcasting ranks at the top among all news outlets in terms of trust and balance and objectivity." 

That means something to members, according to Butler.

"That's a very useful fact that we mention on Capitol Hill," he said.