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NPR and PBS Funding


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#1 M. Leary

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 09:44 AM

I have been reading a bit of the debate around a recent call to defund these "leftist tools." But I haven't seen much hard data on how much each entity receives annually from federal funding. Does anyone have a link to some data on this?

#2 NBooth

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 09:50 AM

Here's a financial break-down on NPR's website.

And here's a CBS article that came out around the time Juan Williams was let go.

The, um, money quote:

NPR does end up with some federal funding in an indirect sense, though it only makes up between one and three percent of the group's budget on a yearly basis, according to NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, who discussed the matter in an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.

Here's how Schiller breaks it down: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which covers both radio and television, gets $90 million per year in federal funding that goes to member public radio stations, not NPR itself. (This would be your local NPR affiliate.) She said any money NPR gets from the CPB comes via grants it has to apply for, and those grants only make up a tiny percentage of the overall NPR budget, which Schiller puts at $160 million per year.


From the number of pledge drives and sponsorships I've seen on PBS, I'm betting it's around the same thing for public television.

#3 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 11:30 AM

Apparently, they've already raised the collective voices of 170 million Americans who all insist that public broadcasting should be federally funded.

Somehow, I suspect they're using that 170 million figure loosely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQcIJKkqOfw&feature=player_embedded

Edited by Persiflage, 12 February 2011 - 11:30 AM.


#4 NBooth

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 11:34 AM

FWIW, I think the 170 million figure refers to the number of Americans who make use of NPR and PBS--not the number who have any opinion at all on federal funding. From the 170 Million Americans website:

Every month over 170 million Americans use public media – through 368 public television stations, 934 public radio stations, hundreds of online services, education services, and in-person events and activities.


Edited by NBooth, 12 February 2011 - 11:34 AM.


#5 Christian

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 11:48 AM

I have been reading a bit of the debate around a recent call to defund these "leftist tools." But I haven't seen much hard data on how much each entity receives annually from federal funding. Does anyone have a link to some data on this?

Who needs data when we can use this an excuse to reclaim the "outrages" of the mid-1990s?

#6 M. Leary

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:14 PM

Frankly, I am for more funding given that public broadcasting provides a respite from the one-sided battles that rage in internet journalism and comment boxes. I don't care what your politics are, I hear a lot of healing on NPR on a daily basis.

#7 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:14 PM

I have been reading a bit of the debate around a recent call to defund these "leftist tools." But I haven't seen much hard data on how much each entity receives annually from federal funding. Does anyone have a link to some data on this?

Also, from what I understand, the federal funding currently under target is $430 million that goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The, um, money quote:

She said any money NPR gets from the CPB comes via grants it has to apply for, and those grants only make up a tiny percentage of the overall NPR budget, which Schiller puts at $160 million per year.

Well, those against cutting federal funding are certainly ignoring that little fact. Instead, to hear them talk, you'd think they were trying to eliminate PBS and NPR altogether - they actually sound hysterical. But, I guess hysterically crying out that PBS and NPR are going to be destroyed gets more attention than crying out that 2% of their budgets will be cut.

Personally, I find the simpler arguments more persuasive. And generally, I think government funding of the news is just a bad idea, no matter what their politics are.

Edited by Persiflage, 12 February 2011 - 12:16 PM.


#8 M. Leary

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:23 PM

CBP's finances broken down, at least according to Wikipedia:

CPB's annual budget is composed almost entirely of an annual appropriation from Congress plus interest on those funds. For fiscal year 2010, its appropriation was $422 million (including $2 million in interest earned). The distribution of these funds were as follows:

$21.0 million (a maximum of 5 percent of the total budget) for CPB administrative costs
$25.2 million (a maximum of 6 percent of the total budget) for funds to support the Public Broadcasting Service generally, as opposed to specific stations.

$281.85 million (66.8 percent of the total budget) for public television, distributed as:
$210.26 million as grants to individual public television stations
$71.59 million for public television programming
$93.94 million (22.3 percent of total budget) for public radio, distributed as:
$65.41 million as grants to individual public radio stations
$21.74 million as grants for radio programming acquisition
$6.79 million for public radio programming


Edited by M. Leary, 12 February 2011 - 12:25 PM.


#9 M. Leary

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:30 PM

And generally, I think government funding of the news is just a bad idea, no matter what their politics are.


I am not sure that the government funding news is any better or worse than a set of corporate entities funding the news. That may be worth discussing.

But I do like that fact that we have a federal grant based system for the production of public radio programming, which has over many years created radio events that help Americans understand each other and the world. I do actually want my tax dollars supporting these kinds of endeavors.

#10 Overstreet

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 12:44 PM



#11 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:00 PM

But I do like that fact that we have a federal grant based system for the production of public radio programming, which has over many years created radio events that help Americans understand each other and the world. I do actually want my tax dollars supporting these kinds of endeavors.

But is this necessary in a world now glutted with media oportunities and sources? I say this as a dedicated NPR listener.

#12 M. Leary

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:21 PM


But I do like that fact that we have a federal grant based system for the production of public radio programming, which has over many years created radio events that help Americans understand each other and the world. I do actually want my tax dollars supporting these kinds of endeavors.

But is this necessary in a world now glutted with media oportunities and sources? I say this as a dedicated NPR listener.


Probably. I know there is a wealth of recorded podcasts, lectures, etc... out there. But are there really comparable funding sources out there for the kind of programming NPR is characterized by? I am with you, Rich. A dedicated NPR listener just feeling my way through this current debate.

#13 David Smedberg

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:26 PM

I'm grateful to read all the views of NPR listeners.

Personally, my POV bias starts with the fact that I dislike listening to NPR (stuffy) and I would rather my money went to programming of my choice. But I'm willing to hear the opposite reasoning.

#14 Ryan H.

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:27 PM

Frankly, I am for more funding given that public broadcasting provides a respite from the one-sided battles that rage in internet journalism and comment boxes. I don't care what your politics are, I hear a lot of healing on NPR on a daily basis.

I feel exactly the same way. Given the harsh, invective-fueled media climate, NPR is something of an oasis.

Edited by Ryan H., 12 February 2011 - 01:38 PM.


#15 Christian

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 01:53 PM

Personally, I find the simpler arguments more persuasive. And generally, I think government funding of the news is just a bad idea, no matter what their politics are.

Seconded.

But is this necessary in a world now glutted with media oportunities and sources? I say this as a dedicated NPR listener.

Me, too, mainly on Saturdays. In fact, I think "The Splendid Table" (NOT an NPR program) is about to come on my local affiliate. Gotta pull up that stream. (EDIT: Actually, that show comes on next hour. Right now it's "Studio 360" ... but not until the station breaks for a pledge drive.)

So, who among us -- advocates and opponents of government funding of public broadcasting -- is a current member of their local NPR station?

Edited by Christian, 12 February 2011 - 02:02 PM.


#16 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 02:40 PM

I am not sure that the government funding news is any better or worse than a set of corporate entities funding the news. That may be worth discussing.

Government funding of the news business is always worse than corporate funding. At least from one traditional philosophical point of view which frowns upon what is essentially government subsidizing of one set of views over another. Because of the corruptibility of power, this is a power I'd prefer not to give to the government. Government funding is actually your and my mandatory funding (by force). Corporate funding is purely free, in the political sense - no one is actually being forced to give their money to support anything.

But I do like that fact that we have a federal grant based system for the production of public radio programming, which has over many years created radio events that help Americans understand each other and the world. I do actually want my tax dollars supporting these kinds of endeavors.

I get that, and I completely admit I enjoy a few instances of radio programming on NPR like A Prairie Home Companion. But the point here is that your "tax dollars" supporting charitable radio programming is actually less than your regular dollars supporting programming you approve of (i.e., the government takes $1 from you and gives radio programming 40 cents, as opposed to you just giving radio programing an entire $1). No one in their right mind would suggest that shows like A Prairie Home Companion will cease if the federal government stops funding a small percentage of their budget.

But are there really comparable funding sources out there for the kind of programming NPR is characterized by? I am with you, Rich. A dedicated NPR listener just feeling my way through this current debate.

Yes, there are. We mostly know this because NPR gets around 80% of its funding sources through private means already.

Personally, my POV bias starts with the fact that I dislike listening to NPR (stuffy) and I would rather my money went to programming of my choice. But I'm willing to hear the opposite reasoning.

I enjoy some NPR and heartily dislike some NPR, but simply because I like some of it should not mean that I get to demand that you be taxed in order to support it.

Edited by Persiflage, 12 February 2011 - 02:40 PM.


#17 Greg P

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 04:23 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q

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#18 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 07:03 PM

Government funding of the news business is always worse than corporate funding. At least from one traditional philosophical point of view which frowns upon what is essentially government subsidizing of one set of views over another. Because of the corruptibility of power, this is a power I'd prefer not to give to the government. Government funding is actually your and my mandatory funding (by force). Corporate funding is purely free, in the political sense - no one is actually being forced to give their money to support anything.

The irony of this is that CPB (parent of both NPR and, presumably, PRI the source of much optional product) is also funded corporately by grants. Even now. In tough times. I'd say that times for Washington and State govts are even tougher. While on principle, I am against government funding, it seems to me that NPR obviously is not under government dictates.

Most "corporate" news is also not under dictates from the owners as to what to broadcast. Most execs know enough about product quality to not interfere in substance. Budgeting might be another matter, but it is also another matter in the auto industry, for example. Compromises are always made based on budget. The Corvette's one failing as a potentially world class car is GM's insistance on going to the parts bin for interior pieces. It comes up in EVERY road test in almost all "buff books". Often, slower cars half again as costly come out ahead precisely because of this. As I say, compromises exist in all aspects of life, except maybe for Congressional expenditures.

The thing that bothers me most about NPR is the subtle philosophical bias towards rote acceptance of statist solutions. Under the present administration, it can look a little like a dictate. Little real questioning of the administration's POV on the healthcare debate, or the former Speaker's POV was heard. Opposing views were often aired, but pieces rarely questioned statist assumptions. Also, maybe red state NPR affiliates are completely different, but WDET was very willing to pile on this sort of thing rather heavily as well. In addition, the recent governor's race, the station practically cheerled for Bernero ("America's Angriest, or Best Mayor" depending on Ed Schultz's mood on a particular day). So far, WDET is not too rough on Snyder because he hasn't really shown his cards yet. Were WDET to go after Snyder's dreamy bromides from the election and the State of the State Address, they'd be exposed for not questioning Obama's cotton candy from 2008.

I listen because as Jonah Goldberg once said, "NPR is reliably liberal, but it IS reliable." I don't support it, except through tax dollars (cut the funding and I might change my mind regardless of my objections). I never turn away from objectionable or disagreeable views I hear on NPR because it is also a less excruciating method of "keeping my (political) enemies closer" than MSNBC, The Nation, Daily Kos, etc. It is also more plausible than the alternatives as well.

EDIT: I forgot. I once LOVED A Prairie Home Companion. In the last decade, Keillor has not been able to control a bitter political edge though. It's not like anybody was fooled into thinking he wasn't a Dem, or some such before the 2000 election. Afterwards, it tended to color otherwise good material on occasion, and corrupt other stuff on occasion as well. Sad. Peter Sagel seems to be able to cheerfully poke anybody who gets any attention of a particular week. Anymore, there's no comparison. Keillor doesn't seem to realize that his show isn't really about politics at all.

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 12 February 2011 - 07:14 PM.


#19 Ryan H.

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 07:18 PM

In the last decade, Keillor has not been able to control a bitter political edge though. It's not like anybody was fooled into thinking he wasn't a Dem, or some such before the 2000 election. Afterwards, it tended to color otherwise good material on occasion, and corrupt other stuff on occasion as well. Sad. Peter Sagel seems to be able to cheerfully poke anybody who gets any attention of a particular week. Anymore, there's no comparison. Keillor doesn't seem to realize that his show isn't really about politics at all.

I listen to it now and again, but I haven't noticed any strong political voice. But, in general, political jokes don't bother me, even I disagree with the sentiment or point of view behind them.

#20 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 07:22 PM

Just so everyone's clear, cutting federal funding to CPB, PBS or NPR will NOT put an end to any of them. They'll just have to make up the small percentage difference out of more private grants and donations.

PBS and NPR give us programs that there is a demand for. For example, I know I enjoy listening to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR, and I would very readily pay to listen to it if I had to.

However, cutting federal funding to CPB, PBS and NPR will help eliminate any influence the government may or will have on their programming. It will (along with the ton of other things our overspending government should stop paying money it doesn't have for) be more economical. It will force PBS and NPR to cater just a little bit more to the tastes of the consumers for whom they are supposed to be supplying their products. It will make PBS and NPR just a little less reluctant to criticize whatever government administration is currently in power (and holding their purse strings). And it will mean that we're not spending an extra $430 million per year that, in reality, we do not actually have right now.