NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 10, 1997

The original idea of the Public Broadcasting Service was to create a television medium which would create uplifting works, untainted by vulgar corporate commercialism. Now Congress is telling the operation -- through budget cuts -- that it must raise more of its own monies.

So some, inside and outside PBS, are casting their eyes to the formerly-shunned corporations and beginning to think that commercials might not be so bad. Even the cautious admit that a few ads here and there couldn't be any worse than those endless fund drives.

  • In the previous fiscal year, 150 corporations and corporate foundations contributed to or utilized PBS operations.
  • The public has not been a reliable financial supporter of PBS so far -- with only one in ten viewers making pledges.
  • American companies will spend in the neighborhood of $200 billion on advertising and sales promotion this year -- if only a very tiny portion were directed at PBS it could completely replace taxpayer subsidies to the private corporation.
  • So in Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere, affiliates are testing 30-second corporate spots.

According to reports, none of the stations has seen a resultant drop in viewership, membership, or support from foundations or other sources.

Source: Albert R. Gamper Jr. (CIT Group), "Brought to You by...," Wall Street Journal, July 10, 1997.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues