Public Broadcasting Subsidy: Unnecessary and Irrational

January 3, 2011

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, says William F. Shughart II, a senior fellow at the Independent Institute.

  • The best estimates suggest that, historically, about 15 percent to 20 percent of public broadcasting's operating expenses are financed by federal taxpayers.
  • Over the last four years, private donations, both in cash and in kind, accounted for about 33 percent to 39 percent of the public media's annual revenue.
  • State and local governments, foundations, colleges and universities, both public and private, contributed another 29 percent of the total.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) was established in 1967 at a time when three national television networks dominated the airwaves.  Today, the broadcast media offer a diverse mix of content over the air, and via cable and satellite.  Indeed, the History and Discovery channels, Public Radio International, American Public Media and SIRIUS satellite radio, among others, compete effectively with National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) -- and millions of Americans willingly pay for commercially distributed content.

If NPR and public television cannot survive in such an environment without taxpayer subsidies, they should be allowed to go the way of the dodo bird, says Shughart.

Source: William F. Shughart II, "Public Broadcasting Subsidy: Unnecessary and Irrational," Independent Institute, December 10, 2010.

For text:

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2940

 

Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues