Is public broadcasting’s $445 million subsidy really a “tiny federal investment”?

posted at 6:05 pm on May 18, 2012 by Rob Bluey

NPR, PBS and other public broadcasting outlets are asking taxpayers to fork over $445 million in funding for the next fiscal year. But not if Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) have anything to say about it.

The conservative lawmakers want to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the steward of the federal government’s “investment” in public radio and TV. Congress created CPB in 1967, and DeMint and Lamborn think it’s time to cut it off from the federal trough. Their move comes as the agency prepares to report to Congress how it could operate without a federal subsidy.

“While so many Americans are making sacrifices around the country to make ends meet, CPB appears unwilling to do the same,” DeMint and Lamborn wrote in a letter to Senate and House appropriators. “Now is the appropriate and necessary time for the government to end taxpayer subsidies for CPB.”

Liberals are fighting back to keep the money flowing. The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet, claims the federal subsidy is necessary to save public-broadcasting jobs.

This tiny federal investment is vital to helping support programming that commercial media won’t showcase and provides an important foundation for stations around the country to build on.

DeMint and Lamborn don’t consider it such a “tiny federal investment,” particularly given the rapid growth of public broadcasting’s federal subsidy in the past decade. Writing on DeMint’s new Pickpocket blog, Amanda Carpenter noted:

Even though media has become more accessible than ever, funding for CPB has exploded. Between 2001 and 2012, the CPB’s appropriated funding escalated by nearly 31 percent, from $340 million to $444.1 million.

This, of course, isn’t the first time public broadcasting faced a fight over its federal subsidy. Previous attempts to cut off funding came in the wake of Juan Williams’ firing from NPR and James O’Keefe’s exposé of an NPR executive’s disparaging remarks about conservatives and Tea Party activists. The funding cut was also part of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s YouCut initiative.

The O’Keefe exposé also revealed that NRP’s own senior vice president for fundraising admitted that NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding.” More than a year later, the American people are still on the hook.

Rob Bluey directs the Center for Media and Public Policy, an investigative journalism operation at The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertBluey


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Let them compete in the marketplace of ideas.

If there is a demand, then they’ll swim. If not, I guess they’ll sink.

freedomfirst on May 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Yes, it’s extremely tiny. Almost completely insignificant. So surely, no one will mind if we cut it off.

RINO in Name Only on May 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM

You know, one of these rich Republicans that the Democrats keep talking about should open up a chain of center-right “public broadcasting” stations under a different network and make NPR compete for that funding. Maybe call it APR (American Public Network). Have shows with things like AGW skeptics and responsible economists and interview government officials in states that have cut spending and balanced budgets.

crosspatch on May 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Yes, it’s extremely tiny. Almost completely insignificant. So surely, no one will mind if we cut it off.

RINO in Name Only on May 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Hmmm, that actually doesn’t sound so good in a different context.

RINO in Name Only on May 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM

This tiny federal investment is vital to helping support programming that commercial media won’t showcase and provides an important foundation for stations around the country to build on.

Really?! Have these idiots seen the liberal crap the commercial media smear all over the airwaves on any given day?

squint on May 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Well, the fact that it is essentially a publically funded propaganda network for the DNC is rather unsettling, is it not?

spiritof61 on May 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Every Dime of tax money spent on this silly, dull, left-wing dinosaur is a waste.

Off the Government teet…this subsidized propaganda mill makes it 1 year tops.

Tim_CA on May 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM

They own the licensing rights to every Elmo doll, book, video, board game, decal, beach towel, video game, and every pair of PJs with Sesame Street characters printed on them, right?
 
Tell me again why they need taxpayer money, please.

rogerb on May 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Cut it off! Starve it. The Gov has no business in the entertainment industry.

Bmore on May 18, 2012 at 6:23 PM

Tell me again why they need taxpayer money, please.

rogerb on May 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Democrats like hot cash?

squint on May 18, 2012 at 6:24 PM

A half a billion here – a half a billion there… it adds up. If they think it is so minuscule, give it to me.

Blake on May 18, 2012 at 6:25 PM

“The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet…”

Wait, what??

brainy435 on May 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

Cut them off!!!!

Let their company live or die by how hard they work and how
marketable their products are – just like the rest of us business
owners and their employees.

Amjean on May 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM

The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet,

Wonderful irony!

topdog on May 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Let the Progs fund it through contributions…it is their official mouthpiece.

d1carter on May 18, 2012 at 6:31 PM

“The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet…”

Wait, what??

brainy435 on May 18, 2012 at 6:27 PM

If memory serves, they are part of the George Soros Puppet Express.

squint on May 18, 2012 at 6:31 PM

What just chaps me, almost monthly psb has ‘we need money from viewers’? The only thing we watch on pbs is anitque roadshow. WHY do they do their fundraisers? I do NOT want to fund any station, radio or tv. If you can’t make it cry to those who have deep pockets to help you out, NOT THE TAXPAYERS! Spew your krap and if people love the daylights outta you, they will fund?
L

letget on May 18, 2012 at 6:32 PM

The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet

George Orwell would be so proud.

dirtseller on May 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

No NPR $. Or give equal to a conservative alternative, if that can’t be done then scrap NPR. The feds can’t just finance the lib side.

Is $445 million of no consequence? Well, yes, in comparison to the 68 BILLION dollars that was spent on “climate change activities” over the last 3 years.
You got to be kidding me… when we are about to go belly up bankrupt. “And what do we have to show for that 68 billion $” someone asked. There was a pause. It’s not clear that there is anything to point to. Just a complete huge massive waste of 68 billion $… where were the TParty conservatives on this? Stop all “climate change” spending.
There is nothing wrong with the climate, and CO2 has nothing to do with it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK_WyvfcJyg

anotherJoe on May 18, 2012 at 6:35 PM

Don’t radio stations change their format if ratings fall off??

If the liberals, in the name of freedom, won’t de-fund NPR, a new administration would have some latitude to – juice up the format a little bit- ? Da, comrades?

Who’s up for the “Constitution History Hour” w/ expert cameo segments of discussion with Mark Levin ?

It will be a new day.
Thanks Obama.

FlaMurph on May 18, 2012 at 6:37 PM

letget on May 18, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Yeah, the beg-a-thons get to be tedious. Why do they need to do them? Stop hiring so much national high-priced talent and go with local talent / volunteers.

crosspatch on May 18, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Let them compete in the marketplace of ideas.

If there is a demand, then they’ll swim. If not, I guess they’ll sink.

freedomfirst on May 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Click and Clack (Car Talk) can probably move to any weekend radio station, the rest… well, sink or swim folks.

Fallon on May 18, 2012 at 6:41 PM

As crazy as it sounds, the neohippies are right about this: NPR funding is too insignificant to be argued about.

It should be simply lumped into a multi-trillion dollar package of federal spending cuts — a gutting of EVERY federal program not authorized by the Constitution.

Then let the liberals explain why they should be allowed this one single “insignificant” violation of the Constitution.

logis on May 18, 2012 at 6:43 PM

The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet

George Orwell would be so proud.

dirtseller on May 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Funny and frightening at the same time.

*shaking head in disbelief*

Fallon on May 18, 2012 at 6:43 PM

You know, one of these rich Republicans that the Democrats keep talking about should open up a chain of center-right “public broadcasting” stations under a different network and make NPR compete for that funding. Maybe call it APR (American Public Network). Have shows with things like AGW skeptics and responsible economists and interview government officials in states that have cut spending and balanced budgets.

crosspatch on May 18, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Very true. With FNC moving to the left, about the only representation conservatives have is talk radio.

bw222 on May 18, 2012 at 6:49 PM

The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet

…the government already has control of the Politburo organizations of ABC, CBS and NBC.

KOOLAID2 on May 18, 2012 at 6:54 PM

Dunno what caused me to search for this (tired I guess)…

but the similarities are pretty haunting…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_propaganda

teejk on May 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

Really?! Have these idiots seen the liberal crap the commercial media smear all over the airwaves on any given day?

squint on May 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM

…that’s why they should say no to NPR…He11 NO!

KOOLAID2 on May 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM

Cut it off from the federal trough

Feeding trough as in what donkeys eat out of.

Donkeys as in Democrats.

Clever wordplay!

itsnotaboutme on May 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM

$445 million worth of obama propaganda – what, don’t tell me that someone has a problem with it!?!

Pork-Chop on May 18, 2012 at 7:05 PM

The special-interest group Free Press, which advocates for greater government control over media and the Internet, claims the federal subsidy is necessary to save public-broadcasting jobs

WAT?

Sekhmet on May 18, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Make a compromise with the Left: Let’s defund these media operations (let them survive on their own, and they will) and appropriate the $445 million to some other project, something that the Left and conservatives can agree upon. Maybe upgrading a veterans hospital or something.

It’s immoral that the government funds “independent” media that promotes bigger government. That happens in third world countries…it shouldn’t happen here.

visions on May 18, 2012 at 7:11 PM

So how many people are fans and regular viewers/listeners of NPR+PBS ?
About 100 Million ?
Why can’t each one of them give just $ 5 , every year to keep their favorite and only TV+Radio going?

burrata on May 18, 2012 at 7:14 PM

WAT?

Sekhmet on May 18, 2012 at 7:11 PM

Just as what about to say exactly same, I noticed it. Weapon-grade irony of the name, isn’t it?

Archivarix on May 18, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Lets defund some of these. Read some of the titles for a laugh.http://www.usa.gov/directory/federal/index.shtml

mixplix on May 18, 2012 at 7:31 PM

If the CPB and NPR need any Federal funding at all, then it is quite clear that the viewers of NPR programming ARE NOT PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE!

digitalhap on May 18, 2012 at 9:05 PM

Yes, it’s extremely tiny. Almost completely insignificant. So surely, no one will mind if we cut it off.

RINO in Name Only on May 18, 2012 at 6:12 PM

YES thank you … I always get concerned
about Gov’t “investment” in businesses …

conservative tarheel on May 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Yeah, the beg-a-thons get to be tedious. Why do they need to do them? Stop hiring so much national high-priced talent and go with local talent / volunteers.

crosspatch on May 18, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Used to watch Norm Abram and Roy Underhill woodworking shows on PBS regularly. Would come in from the shop on Saturday afternoon and spend an hour snoozing/watching those shows. Then came the begathons. First time, I thought time was just delayed. It wasn’t so bad when this happened once a year. It later became a quarterly or even more frequent thing. To the point I no longer wasted my time even coming in to watch.

AZfederalist on May 18, 2012 at 10:12 PM

We need balance. Let’s see to it that every dollar that goes to CPB/NPR/PBS is matched to an array of conservative media outlets, like PJTV, GBTV, etc. Put the money there and the organizations will be put together. Free up the TV and radio bandwidth to match.

slickwillie2001 on May 18, 2012 at 10:19 PM

If they were too stupid to make money on Sesame Street spin-offs they deserve not another cent ever.

Idiots.

profitsbeard on May 18, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Cut it off! Starve it. The Gov has no business in the entertainment industry.

Bmore on May 18, 2012 at 6:23 PM

entertainment? you’re pretty loose with that term.

deimos on May 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM

They own the licensing rights to every Elmo doll, book, video, board game, decal, beach towel, video game, and every pair of PJs with Sesame Street characters printed on them, right?

Tell me again why they need taxpayer money, please.

rogerb on May 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Correct! The money that’s made off of Sesame Street has got to be nearly $500 million/year. Friggin’ Elmo is everywhere! I know this because I have a 2 and a 4 year old.

ManWithNoName on May 18, 2012 at 11:17 PM

Half a billion?

I like “This American Life” but if they can’t stand on their own two feet then cut them now.

CorporatePiggy on May 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM

Be advised – there is no non-essential spending in the federal budget.

One thing that grates is that 51% of America is paying for this BS.

CorporatePiggy on May 19, 2012 at 12:58 AM

I listen to NPR a fair amount and I know that they coordinate with the Obama administration.

There was a story they did a few months ago that struck me as very out of place for NPR. There was a tiny number of people who couldn’t get some drug for their rare condition because there was no profit for the drug companies in making the drug. So NPR saturates their stations with this very tiny special interest story, completely out of the blue, during a time when the big issue of ObamaCare was on the front burner, and a few days later Obama just happens to issue an executive order to solve the problem. I forget what the solution was exactly but it involved the subjugation of drug companies.

Then weeks later I got the same sensation of an out of the blue story when NPR did a story advocating the banning of cell phones in cars. It used some incident that happened in Missouri a year prior as the main selling point. Then days later some Obama administration agency recommended the banning of cell phones in vehicles, and used the same old incident in their argument. In both instances, NPR was used by Obama to set the table so that his actions didn’t seem so out of the blue.

Buddahpundit on May 19, 2012 at 1:55 AM

>>Let them compete in the marketplace of ideas.

The FCC should allow them to run ads–and not accept any taxpayer money. “Car Talk will return after this message from Ben and
Jerry’s.”

They do run corporate donation sponsorship announcements. The WaPo article about their $2.6 million deficit mentioned a decrease in
“advertising revenue”.

Uh, non-commercial radio?
Not really. Go all the way then. Let them accept ads and see if they can compete.
(As it is a recent court decision says they CAN accept political
candidate ads now…)

raccoonradio on May 19, 2012 at 3:20 AM

Perhaps NPR could sell copies of ‘Pow Wow Chow’ for $50, with signed copies by Elizabeth Warren going for $200…

Khun Joe on May 19, 2012 at 4:34 AM

I want ALL these “little” expenditures stopped.

I don’t even care if they are for good things, or even if we are getting good value for the money.

I want them stopped.

NPR, RIF, all the crap, STOP FUNDING IT.

I gave $150 to my local PBS station last year. I LOVE Antiques Roadshow. These are not the reasons I pay taxes.

Yes, we need to reform the big budget busters, but we need to get rid of these little cash suckers too.

Jocon307 on May 19, 2012 at 5:26 AM

The very existence of government-funded programming at the federal level is a violation of the 1st Amendment. Every government-endorsed editorial decision to include something is a government decision to exclude something else. Censorship. Not practical to include everything. Ergo, the entire endeavor is disqualified. Except for a coupla-three hundred thousand to provision two positions to make PSAs on matters of public safety, funding is easily deleted. Live from Lincoln Center is not critical to public safety. Sayonara. Unfortunately, warping the Constitution for elite-friendly. politically promotable, media-endorsed, huggy-fuzzy programs is nothing new. Just a form of hi-brow vote-graft. No Libertarian I, but it’s not much of a stretch to imagine how better off the USA would be with just two exec branch agencies, Defense (to defend) and Commerce (to encourage).

curved space on May 20, 2012 at 9:50 AM