Even if we had a giant budget surplus, federal subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be misguided and improper. In an environment where excessive federal spending is strangling growth and threatening the nation’s solvency, the argument to defund PBS and NPR is even stronger – particularly when private funding easily could replace the $422 million provided by federal taxpayers.
I suppose the fact that PBS and NPR have a statist bias is another argument for getting rid of taxpayer subsidies, but that’s barely a blip on my radar screen. It wouldn’t matter if government TV and radio was genuinely fair and balanced. Taxpayers should not subsidize broadcasting of any kind, period.
Moreover, as explained by Professor William Shughart of the University of Mississippi, the private market provides high-quality and niche programming, thus debunking the traditional pro-CPB argument for taking tax dollars from middle-class people to support the viewing and listening habits of upper-income people.
…congressional appropriations for CPB, the primary channel through which tax dollars are funneled to PBS television and NPR, amounted to $422 million. …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 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. Supporters of continued taxpayer support of CPB and its affiliated local stations argue that $400 million is a small price to pay for financing a voice “independent” of the commercial media. Juan Williams, recently fired in response to his expression of unease in boarding aircraft with obviously Muslim passengers, would beg to differ, as many other Americans would. …the History and Discovery channels, Public Radio International, American Public Media, and SIRIUS satellite radio, among others, compete effectively with NPR and 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.