NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cato Study: Cut Public Radio Loose

July 24, 1997

Subsidies to community radio from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are probably doing more harm than good, concludes a recent study from the Cato Institute.

Although the CPB is supposed to fund and promote community-oriented programming as an alternative to mainstream commercial television and radio, community stations' goals have been subverted by bureaucratic meddling, says the author, Seattle journalist Jesse Walker.

  • CPB subsidies have forced many small, noncommercial radio stations to abandon the volunteers and eclectic programming which made them unique.
  • While economic barriers to new, low-budget community radio are lower than ever, regulatory barriers to entry remain -- particularly the Federal Communications Commission's refusal to license stations operating at less than 100 watts.

Extending telecommunications deregulation to radio would encourage program creativity and diversity, concludes Walker, whereas federal funding eradicates local diversity and character in radio.

Source: Jesse Walker, "With Friends Like These: Why Community Radio Does Not Need the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," Cato Policy Analysis No. 277, July 24, 1997, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20001, (202) 842-0200.


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