Search This Blog


Reducing public broadcasting subsidies will improve it

The federal government looks poised to cut subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I’ll believe it when I see it; the then-new Republican Congress in 1995, after saying the same thing, didn’t cut a cent. But a decade later, it’s an issue worth reviewing.

The amount being discussed, $100 million, sounds large but in fact represents only a little over 4 percent of the entire government corporation’s budget. Over 80 percent of its money comes from non-federal government sources. If we use a uniform cut of 4.33 percent, in practical terms for Louisiana that would mean about $138,000; uniformally across the state, for example, Shreveport would lose less than $7,000. In other words, it’s just not that much – one good pledge drive, even one generous gift, could make it all up, locally.

Of course, opponents have trotted out the well-worn playbook saying the cuts would impact the best-received, most popular programs. Right; I’d like to see station mangers cut these and then expect the pledge drives and business commitments (over 40 percent of total funding) to do as well. No, they are sensible folks, and, if any scaling back of programming occurs, it will be with the deadweight.

A good place to start would be opinion shows that consistently display a liberal bias. Finally running Bill Moyers into retirement is a great start, but more work can be done, as evidenced by the CPB’s own objectivity surveys (they are required to produce such reports annually). Over a fifth of consumers of its television (PBS) and radio (NPR) say there is a liberal bias (much smaller proportions chip in they actually think there’s a conservative bias – must be Howard Dean fans).

The CPB’s pollsters try to spin this argument by pointing out major news networks are seen by their respondents as even more liberally biased, so they argue their focus groups show:

There is a core segment of the population that will always contend that all news media is biased no matter what. In other words, many people are simply “jumping on the bandwagon” and saying PBS and/or NPR are biased only because they believe all news media are biased and they do not distinguish between specific news organizations and the news media in general.

Only in an era of grade inflation in education could somebody come up with such a backwards conclusion. If people “do not distinguish between specific news organizations and the news media in general,” then why is it that they do differentiate between the CPB and others by giving different very scores (one-third compared to one-fifth)? Doesn’t it make far more logical sense to say the people who say there is bias do so because it’s really there? What if they polled the public and found a third disliked Coke and while a fifth disliked Pepsi? Would it then be logical to conclude that at least 20 percent of the country dislikes all soft drinks?

Or an even easier solution is to just cut off all subsidies to Pacifica Radio stations. Much of what they broadcast is so horrendously slanted and contrafactual that it’s worthless yet $1.2 million a year has been going to this arm of the kook left (and now that it has Dead-Air America, why should taxpayers’ dollars support this lunacy?).

Don’t be fooled, with so many other greater priorities out there, as Congress has made clear, it’s about time to trim the fat from the CPB represented by its politically-biased content anyway. If the public really supports public broadcasting, no doubt it will step up during pledge time.

No comments: