Saturday, February 12, 2011

Death Knell or Minor Setback?

An online petition from is circulating on Facebook, urging fans of NPR and PBS to save public broadcasting by protesting the proposed budget of Republicans in the House of Representatives. On Friday, GOP leaders unveiled their new budget proposal, which, among other things, seeks to cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, the plan "is unlikely to pass the Senate or be enacted into law, casting it as more of a statement of GOP intentions and priorities, rather than an actual fiscal plan."

Even if Republicans were able to carry out their proposal, I'm not convinced that it would make as much of a difference as many of the opinions that I've seen are predicting. NPR's website indicates that it gets only a small percentage of  its funding from the federal government:

"While NPR does not receive any direct federal funding, it does receive a small number of competitive grants from CPB and federal agencies like the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce. This funding amounts to approximately 2% of NPR’s overall revenues. The largest share of NPR's revenue comes from program fees and station dues paid by member stations that broadcast NPR programs."

Those member stations also get a small percentage of their fiscal support from the federal government, in turn indirectly passing some of it on to NPR. Still, it remains a minority of both NPR's and other public broadcasting outlets' total revenues. Sure, it would probably cause some hardship if NPR lost all federal funding, but it wouldn't be the death knell that many people are interpreting this budget proposal as. NPR would survive, especially if all those Facebook fans and petitioners translated their verbal support into financial support.