Casey Routh of Seattle visited Congress on Monday to complete his humanities project: a full-fledged lobbying trip in support of public broadcasting and the arts.
“A lot of students listen to National Public Radio. A lot of us grew up on public television,” said Routh, a senior at Franklin High School, an arts magnet school in Seattle.
“It is important to society to have commercial-free programming,” he told Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.
Routh and 20 of his classmates met Monday with Murray and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., to urge support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Routh held an auction at school to raise $6,500 in travel expenses to bring his humanities class here - a journey of 3,000 miles. He collected most of the items donated for the auction himself, including theater tickets and sports autographs.
Routh told Murrary that “we all want to know where you stand on funding for the NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
Murray said she is a strong defender of the CPB and the NEA. She said she worries that someday there will be a fee for all television channels.
“I want to be sure everybody has at least one free channel,” the senator said. “If you eliminate public broadcasting, it will be a few rich, elite people who own the airwaves. They will decide what it is and who gets to see it.”
Routh asked Murray what kinds of arguments they would run up against as they lobby backers of steep cuts in public broadcasting.
“Some will say if it is so important to fund, then the private sector should be able to pick it up,” Murray said.
“So they are saying the government has absolutely no responsibility to help the people?” countered senior Sebastian Sittig.