Free Markets, Free People


Ending NPR’s subsidy – a thousand mile trip begins with a first step

Joyce Slocum, writing in the Hill, is upset about the vote to defund NPR.

These days, I’m frequently asked, “Can public broadcasting survive without federal funding?” I understand the reason for the question — we all understand the terrible burden of our national debt — but the real question is, “What’s the cost to the nation of defunding public broadcasting?”

Eliminating federal funding would seriously damage public broadcasting and harm millions of Americans who rely on us. Period.

I’m calling BS.  By the way, Slocum is the interim CEO of NPR.

What it would mean is instead of banking on a hand out, NPR would actually have to get off it’s collective duff and find a way to raise more money.  And that’s the real problem, it doesn’t want to have to do that.  It prefers the handout.

And Slocum is also  implying that the programing NPR does isn’t sufficient enough to earn its own way. 

It will mean fewer stations, fewer programs, and less news produced — especially locally. If stations go dark, that hurts us at NPR, but it hurts local listeners more. At NPR, our mission is to reach and inform as many people as well as possible about what’s going on in the world and in their communities. A weakened, smaller public broadcasting economy will deeply damage our ability to deliver on that mission.

But if that mission is as essential as Slocum believes and it is a good as she implies, then NPR should have little difficulty raising the money to offset the subsidy it now gets from taxpayers, shouldn’t it?

First we need to get something straight – NPR receives no direct subsidy from the government.  It receives its subsidy through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  This is how NPR’s funding breaks down according to Wikipedia:

In 2009, NPR revenues totaled $164 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships.[14] According to the 2009 financial statement, about 40% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations to receive programming. Typically, NPR member stations raise funds through on-air pledge drives, corporate underwriting, and grants from state governments, universities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2009, member stations derived 6% of their revenue from direct government funding, 10% of their revenue from federal funding in the form of CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities.[14][15] NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government.[16] About 1.5% of NPR’s revenues come from Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.

So what Slocum is talking about is the funding that is paid directly to member stations who receive 6% of their funding from government.  Secondly, NPR receives about 1.5% from CPB grants (about $246,000).

The entire point, of course, is defunding NPR’s client stations (where it NPR corporate gets its hands on government subsidy money) and the CPB isn’t going to kill NPR. Or shouldn’t.  It is going to mean more work for NPR.  Perhaps a few more beg-a-thons, corporate outreach and even, horror of horrors, considering taking on commercial advertising.

There are solutions for heave sake – but this constant whining “we can’t make it” or “programming will suffer” or “jobs will be lost” seems completely contrary to reality.  They can make it, programming doesn’t have to suffer, and, if they’d put together a decent marketing plan and hit the streets, there’s no reason jobs must be lost.  And that goes for local NPR stations as well.

Time to earn your keep.  The taxpayers are simply tired of subsidizing you (and many, many, many other entities out there).  And while CPB and NPR aren’t “big fish” programs, you have to remember, it’s a cumulative thing.  A billion here, 400 million there and pretty soon you’re talking big money.

~McQ

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16 Responses to Ending NPR’s subsidy – a thousand mile trip begins with a first step

  • “we all understand the terrible burden of our national debt — but the real question is, “What’s the cost to the nation of defunding public broadcasting?”
    Eliminating federal funding would seriously damage public broadcasting and harm millions of Americans who rely on us. Period.”

    Yes, Mr Slocum and I’m sure pricey sushi restaurants in Japan are having a hard time getting fresh fish right now.  Let’s get a little perspective shall we?

    Rely, on NPR?  Please.  Do they deliver power?  Water?  Food?  Heating oil?  gasoline?  The arrogance is entertaining, as if there is no other source out there for the service they provide.
     

  • NPR does do a good job of sounding impartial and authoritative. They are not. But they sound like they are.

    The people who listen no doubt feel better informed than others, while in fact the reverse is more likely true.

  • Well they could cut salaries and benefits just like those of us living in the real world do when revenues fall.

  • I have read some p*ss-weak arguments for keeping this or that government program (Dingy Harry is an unexpected master of making them), but this…

    “You gotta give us money so we can carry out our vital – VITAL, I say – mission of doing what thousands of newspapers, TV and radio programs, cable channels, etc. do twenty-four hours each day without taking any taxpayer money!”

    The sad thing is that this argument is how government grows: a program is started and becomes “vital” because somebody, somewhere, uses it and OBVIOUSLY would “suffer” if it was terminated.  Personally, I think I could stand the blow if there was no more NPR or PBS; in this period of massive government debt and deficits, I am prepared to sacrifice by giving up my NPR.  I’m pretty sure that millions of Americans are willing to do the same.

    McQ[I]f that mission is as essential as Slocum believes and it is a good as he implies, then NPR should have little difficulty raising the money to offset the subsidy it now gets from taxpayers, shouldn’t it?

    Stop thinking like a capitalist.  Obviously, anything that’s “essential” MUST be paid for by the government, because private industry NEVER provides anything essential, or, if it does, it expects to be paid for the service, which isn’t fair.

    This is yet another example of the screwed-up way that lefties see the world.  Because it’s ESSENTIAL that children eat, the government MUST provide food at schools.  Because it’s ESSENTIAL for people to have money when they retire, the government MUST provide retirement programs.  Because it’s ESSENTIAL for people to go to the doctor when they are sick, the government MUST provide health care.

  • Essential!  – but don’t you like the way he draws that up – millions of Americans…WILL BE HARMED!! PERIOD!!!!!

    He’s so, so, so certain.

    “You have a right to de-fund us. You have a right to do that… but you have no right to judge us. It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror… Horror, the horror of millions of Americans waking up one morning, and finding Terry Gross is no longer on the air, or that Garrison Keillor will tell no more tales of Lake Woebegone, or…….Big Bird, Big Bird and Ernie….gone…..gone…….”
     

  • It will mean fewer stations, fewer programs, and less news produced — especially locally.

    Which is much more an admission than a defense of public funding.
    Find a market…or die.  It is kind of a law in economics.

  • sounds good. lets take it further and end all subsidies. like in the energy industry, farm industry, banking industry etc etc

    farm subsidies were 20 billion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_subsidy#United_States
    in 2006 energy subsidies were $13.6 billion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies
    from 1973 to 2003 total energy industry subsides were 74 billion
    npr endowment is 258 million
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Npr#Funding
    tarp passed by GW bush is 25 billion
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Asset_Relief_Program
    do people understand the difference between a b and m?
    seems here for political gain some appear to be making mountains out of molehills
    i would be willing to cut npr if they would be willing to cut the other welfare programs listed here.
     

    • Uh, are you expecting anyone here to defend other subsidies? How often do we have to rail against all subsides for you to figure out we’d like to see all subsides ended?

      Cut ‘em.

    • Great suggestions, slntax! Let’s cut every single one on your list.  Have any more to propose?

  • NPR is totally geared to serving the politically correct and cultural “elite”. So, let the those folks pay its way. Heaven forbid us proles would have to subsidize the limpdicks!

  • What?  Nothing about the GOP not sticking to their 72 hour transparency promise?
    Awe, but you’re so good at stuff like that when the Dems do it.

    :(

    Maybe next time.

    Cheers.

  • They like trying to point out they get by with almost no government money when people call them on their bias.  But threaten to take that money away from them and they run crying.

    I suspect they are lying about the amount of government funding they receive.

    But defunding them isn’t enough.  I would find it hard to believe they and/or their member stations don’t have broadcasting privileges that are unique.  If they do, those privileges should be granted to all stations that seek to be public stations.  Open the door to some competition.  I wouldn’t be surprised if their real fear is that if funding is ended, they may no longer be the only one who has those privileges.

  • We should defund them even if we had a surplus, on moral grounds. CPB and NPR have proven to be extreme left wing, What is the model in which one party gets funding for propaganda by the government? It is called fascism.

    • Perhaps. I prefer the argument though that regardless of the condition of our finances the Feds shouldn’t be subsidizing either.  This isn’t a proper function for the Feds and even if one could have made a good argument that it was years ago, with the thousands of radio & TV stations out there now (don’t forget the internet!) they cannot now.

  • Can public broadcasting survive ?

    Well, the answer is NO, but is there really much left of public broadcasting now anyway ?
    If NPR and PBS defunded, the illusion of “public broadcasting” will end, as the pieces of NPR and PBS will be realigned to become just another broadcast network in the eyes of all Americans.  The fact that many Americans already view them this way, except for the infusion of public money from DC, tells us that there really is something wrong at PBS already.  What other broadcaster gets this kind of government funding ?  … none.