It is not the end of the world as we know it

Posted 11 February 2011 by

Moveon.org proclaims the following on its website:

NPR

NPR

With Republicans back in charge of the House of Representatives, funding for NPR and PBS is in grave danger. Again.

The Republicans just released their budget proposal, and it zeroes out funding for both NPR and PBS–the worst proposal in more than a decade.

Public Broadcasting Service

Public Broadcasting Service

We need to tell Republicans that cutting off funding was unacceptable last time they were in charge, and it’s unacceptable now.

Apparently, the Left knows as much about CPB funding as the Right.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The federal government got out of direct funding of NPR and PBS a long time ago. Today, the federal government still funds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but this is not a primary funding source for programming. Actually money given to CPB is only about 10% of the total—and much of that is for development, not on-going broadcasting.

Today, individual stations or groups use CPB money as a springboard to get a project started. From there, raising sufficient money by the station or group is necessary to accomplish something. From the CPB website:

CPB promotes the growth and development of public media in communities throughout America.

The fact is that if CPB money were to disappear tomorrow, the ultimate Tea Party goal, NPR and PBS would still exist in pretty much the form we see them today. There would not be the same number of projects or new programs, but those institutions would still be there.

American Public Media

American Public Media

American Public Media came into being back when NPR depended on CPB money, and about went bankrupt. Minnesota Public Radio took the lead to establish APM to make sure to save something if the worst thing happened and NPR ceased to exist. (I was a member of MPR and SDPB when this happened.) How many of you know that Prairie Home Companion is an APM program, not an NPR program?

Public Radio International

Public Radio International

PRI is a service that primarily distributes programs created by others. This is how US residents get to listen to the BBC world service on some US public radio stations. Some of these programs may have CPB development money, but not all of them.

We have the Republican Party trying to zero out CPB funding, again. This is not new. More importantly, even if this happens, Big Bird will still be there. Sesame Workshop has a very strong and independent revenue stream.

To summarize:

  • Will it hurt if CPB money goes away? Yes. It is only about 10% of the money spent on public media in the United States.
  • Will it be the end of the world? No. New programs may not be there. Some existing programs require cutting. However, 90% of the money will still be there.
Don't Panic and Carry On

Don't Panic and Carry On

In the battle against the Tea Party and Republicans, truth is our best weapon. You may be able to fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. And, the attribution on that statement is to a Republican president. (It was not P. T. Barnum.) Those disillusioned with the right-wing antics need a place to come that is safe and abides in truth.

I admit I would enjoy having those in the Tea Party explain why NPR and PBS are still there after removing CPB funding. But, I do not want it enough to want to see it happen. So, come up with arguments that tell the truth about this money. Let your representative and senator know your opinion.

And, do not panic.

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