Public Broadcasting Subsidy: Unnecessary and Irrational


Sunday December 19th, 2010   •   Posted by William Shughart at 12:46am PDT   •  

According to a Poll Position survey conducted in late October, 45 percent of Americans said “No” when asked whether the U.S. government should stop helping to fund NPR; 39 percent said “Yes.” Only those respondents identifying themselves as Republicans favored, by a 54 percent to 28 percent margin, ending taxpayer support for NPR.

Given that the federal budget is more than $1 trillion in the red and that deficits extend into the future as far as the eye can see, federal subsidies to public broadcasting understandably are on the table.

The just-released report of President Obama’s deficit-reduction commission recommends diverse measures to put Washington’s fiscal house in order, including a $100 billion reduction in defense spending, a substantial increase in the federal excise tax on gasoline, ending of the tax deductibility of home mortgage interest payments and eliminating all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Federal funding of public radio and television seems to be comparatively small potatoes in the larger budget picture.

This year, for example, congressional appropriations for CPB, the primary channel through which tax dollars are funneled to PBS television and NPR, amounted to $422 million.

At a time when economic stimulus programs, financed primarily by borrowing and the Federal Reserve’s recently announced second round of “quantitative easing,” total in the trillions, who could object to spending a mere few hundred million dollars to support the production and distribution of public programming? Well, I do! . . .

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