‘American Masters,’ ‘Great Performances’ and Other Shows Targeted as PBS Braces for Severe Funding Cuts

Apr 10, 2012  •  Post A Comment

PBS is facing what could be substantial cuts in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, a major supporter of the network’s shows focusing on the performing arts and independent documentaries, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

The cuts, which are due to become official April 25, would take more than $1 million in federal protection aid from PBS programs, the story notes. Such shows have already struggled to find financing in the past few years, Jensen writes.

"Great Performances" and "American Masters" were told by the NEA that they might receive $50,000 each for the 2012 financing year, down from $400,000 each in 2011, the story notes.

"Independent Lens," a documentary program, was also told it would receive $50,000, compared with $170,000 in 2011, while "POV" was told it would get $100,000, rather than the $250,000 the NEA provided in 2011, Jensen notes.

Neal Shapiro, the president of WNET, which produces "American Masters" and "Great Performances," called the cuts "damaging."

"We are hoping people will look at them and say they are way too severe,” Shapiro said, according to the story. Public television “is the only place you see these things,” he said.

A representative for the NEA said the endowment wouldn’t comment until April 25, according to the article.

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