Today, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, thinks we can risk terminating the CPB. This would reduce viewers’ approximately 500 choices to approximately 499. Listeners to public radio might have to make do with America’s 4,666 AM and 6,754 FM commercial stations, 437 satellite radio channels, perhaps 70,000 podcasts, and other Internet and streaming services.
America, which is entertaining itself to inanition, has never experienced a scarcity of entertainment. Or a need for government-subsidized journalism that reports on the government. Before newspaper editorial writers inveigh against Mulvaney and in support of government subsidies for television and radio, they should answer this question: Should there be a CPN — a Corporation for Public Newspapers?
The CPB was created “to encourage public telecommunications services which will be responsive to the interests of people.” Of course: people’s interests, not people’s desires. The market efficiently responds to the latter. Public broadcasting began as a response to what progressives nowadays call “market failure.” This usually means the market’s failure to supply what the public has not demanded but surely would demand if it understood its real “interest.”