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The End of Taxpayer-funded Public Broadcasting?

March 15, 2017 at 6:53 am 25 Commentary
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The liberal media have always had an advantage over conservative media because of their billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. But now, if the Trump administration has its way with the budget, the liberal media may be reduced significantly in size.

“Public Radio and Television Stations Face New Threat of Budget Cuts” is the headline over a Wall Street Journal article about proposed Trump administration budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and public broadcasting. These cuts “are being considered to offset the Trump administration’s proposed increase in defense spending,” the paper said.

Almost $13 billion has been spent by Congress on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) since 1969.

The Heritage Foundation’s “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017,” proposes the complete elimination of the CPB, saving the taxpayers $445 million in fiscal year 2017. The CPB funds public radio and TV.

Accuracy in Media, the oldest media watchdog group, has long argued for the elimination of taxpayer subsidies for public television and radio. “There was a time when non-commercial public broadcasting may have offered an alternative that people couldn’t find elsewhere,” we pointed out back in 2005. “With the rise of cable television and talk radio, however, U.S. taxpayer underwriting of television and radio is no longer needed. The public should not have to subsidize public broadcasting through tax dollars or tax breaks.”

Since then, many more options have become available, including Internet-streaming television services such as Roku, which enable consumers to bypass cable and satellite TV.

Earlier this year Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) introduced two bills, H.R. 726 and H.R. 727, to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio (NPR). In a statement he declared, “With the national debt nearing a staggering $20 trillion, the government cannot continue to subsidize private organizations that are more than capable of being fully privately-funded. This is not about content, as CPB certainly airs some quality programs; the point is that it is perfectly capable of standing on its own two feet and not on the financial shoulders of the American taxpayers.”

Examples of biased public radio and TV programs are numerous. In his December 16, 2016 AIM Center for Investigative Journalism (CIJ) report, “Ken Burns: Student of History—or Left-Wing Gasbag?,” writer Arne Steinberg documented how PBS documentary creator Ken Burns is “a significant cog in the left-wing propaganda machine,” based on his service to the Democratic Party and opposition to Donald Trump.

The Heritage Foundation’s Hans A. von Spakovsky drew attention to this year’s scheduled participation by PBS vice president Toby Chaudhuri in a “partisan gathering intended to organize political resistance to Donald Trump and Republican legislators.” The anti-Trump event was titled “The Rise Above Conference.” Sponsors included the Southern Poverty Law Center and the ACLU.

Speakers included Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood on “Activism 201: Sustaining a Movement,” and Mark Schauer of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee on “The Reality of 2018 and the Hope for 2020.”

Having served as deputy press secretary to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, Chaudhuri worked with President Obama’s administration on “race-based initiatives and democracy and governance projects around the world for the U.S. State Department.” He also worked for then-Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

After word of his participation in the anti-Trump event leaked out, PBS issued a statement saying that Chaudhuri had been notified last year that his employment was ending and that he was due to leave PBS prior to the controversial partisan event. “His participation in this event was not approved by PBS,” it said. “His role as described would be a violation of our commitment to nonpartisanship.”

Chaudhuri had served in the position of Vice President for Strategic Communications and National Partnerships at PBS.

With the new federal budget proposal scheduled for public release on Thursday, one can anticipate that officials at public broadcasting will be putting on their non-partisan faces, in order to avoid proposed cuts. We at AIM have heard this song many times before.

The media will play their familiar roles, as The New York Times is already out with a story about how Trump is proposing to “slash” areas such as public broadcasting, and how poor people will suffer as a result.

Perhaps Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who underwrites the operations of the Times, can pick up the projected decline in funding for public broadcasting.

The largest stockholder in the paper, Slim’s net worth is $50 billion, according to Forbes. He could easily fill the void of $445 million that would be eliminated in taxpayer subsidies for public TV and radio. Or perhaps another billionaire, Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, could write a check.

Then, of course, there’s always George Soros.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

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25 Comments

  1. ltuser
    ltuser March 15, 2017 at 12:30 am

    About damn time. IMO with all the available tV channels out there, there should NO LONGER be any publicly funded networks! IF THEY can’t make it on their own two feet, then let them crash and burn!

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    • drillbeast March 15, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Consider 20 years ago, the “Barney” franchise marketed over 1 Billion dollars in merchandise.
      And it isn’t really advertiser free TV, now is it?
      There is as much need to give subsidies to “public” broadcasters as there is to give money to wagon wheel makers.

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  2. backpacker March 15, 2017 at 8:36 am

    The sad thing is and O’Reilly has brought this up, PBS was profitable without the Government subsidies. So their is no need to subsidize any television stations, using our taxpayer money! This shows you the TRASH we have in Congress, the way they waste our money!!!!!

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    • inluminatuo March 15, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Rule of Thumb,,,always beware of a Well-endowed Liberal seeking to get into pants pockets of taxpaying Americans for either cash or carry.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser March 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      I remember that O-reliey piece where he showed how from the adds PBS has, they were profitable on their own, but some guvmint official still felt it was every american’s duty to fund them even if they don’t watch PBS.. ALL cause ‘da poor dawg, need summit to watch dude”.. YEA i would love to see statistics on WHO THE HELL exactly watches it..

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  3. **** Korn March 15, 2017 at 9:22 am

    “violation of our commitment to non partisanship.”
    That’s a joke right? Do they ever watch there own “opinion programing” they range all the way from left to extreme left to alt left. About as non partisan as Hitler. My wife and I often laugh till we have tears in our eyes, of course sometime there the other kind of tears.

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  4. TheCookieQueen March 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

    CPB should be at the TOP of President Trump’s “cut funding for” list. I have been saying this since their very biased coverage of George W. Bush. Why must I as a taxpayer fund an organization that uses my money to bash and denigrate people and principles that I espouse? I recently watched their “Frontline” feature on how/why Trump won the presidency. Biased reporting and editing throughout including the very dark music used at the end of the program. And what really riles me about PBS is that they think regular folks (like those who voted for Trump) are not smart enough to recognize their bias. Their arrogance and condescension is most annoying.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser March 15, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      And imo this is why i feel trump SHOULD defund the.. IF they wanna be so condescending to the right of the political spectrum people in this country, they can do it on THEIR OWN DIME..

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  5. Lewis Williams March 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Well they can’t use the “big bird” argument, he moved to Netflix.

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    • Lewis Williams March 15, 2017 at 10:02 am

      sorry HBO I misremembered

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  6. columba March 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

    I hope they do get rid of the NEA and NEH along with PBS. Although there are some programs under NEA that do actually support bringing art, music, dance, etc. to communities that otherwise might not be able to afford it, most of the funding supports narcissistic posturing by otherwise unpublishable artists, and public displays of deliberately hideous and/or offensive material. There are enough private philanthropic organizations that could (and would, in the past) support the truly useful programs without the need for federal funding.

    As for the NEH, this has turned almost totally into a boondoggle for academics to ride their hobby horses at the taxpayers’ expense. I speak from experience, after 30 years as a college professor and seeing all the fraud and waste, with no one getting anything out of all the seminars, performances, exhibits, travel, and so-called research but the people who got the grants. I was often urged to apply for such grants myself, since they would look good on my CV (resume) at salary review time. I always said that (a) I didn’t need the money for travel or research, because all my research material was on microfilm at our university, and (b) I didn’t see why an ordinary working person should have to dip into his pocket to pay for my hobbies or job advancement.

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  7. disqus_jtzvommwC0 March 15, 2017 at 10:05 am

    WAY past time to end the subsidies for NPR and CPB. Get it done!

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  8. joe23006
    joe23006 March 15, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Just how the poor will suffer from cuts to PBS is elusive. I doubt they watch it at all except for the kids’ programming.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser March 15, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      I know when i was in school, occasionally they would air something on PBS during say a class on government. BUT other than that, i can’t remember ANYONE ever watching it..

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  9. bjpurg March 15, 2017 at 10:55 am

    I hope this is TRUE!!! They need to go back to what it used to be…private funding!! That way those who buy their bias BS can continue to watch it!! Liberals disgust me!!

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  10. wedey March 15, 2017 at 11:38 am

    I so agree with this. We have so many stations and shows on our regular and cable TVs, so why should we pay for any particular channel.
    They can do like what all other channels do, get their money from paid ads.

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    • ltuser
      ltuser March 15, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      [They can do like what all other channels do, get their money from paid ads.]

      Or get it from people subscribing to the network..

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  11. tyrone williams March 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Let these evil liberal leeches dry up in the swamp. Cut them off now!

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  12. ALLEN L. WELLS March 15, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    It is about time! I tired of my tax dollars funding far radical left news networks. If the Corporation of Public Broadcasting can’t stand on their own let them go under.

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  13. RWSmith6 March 15, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    I won’t argue with what you say, for bias is indeed a problem in EVERY “news” medium. It all started with the need to create, hold, and grow audience. No listeners/readers, no income from sponsors/advertisers. It’s one reason controversy works so well in the media. It creates interest. Imagine all the “talking heads” without controversy. Bye-bye audience.

    NPR isn’t quite in that league as any day-to-day comparison will show. Defunding it would just create the need for underwriting what will not produce revenue, potentially destroying the one source not dependent on revenues from advertisers and, therefore, able to deliver what commercial enterprises can’t.

    There are glitches galore in free-market capitalism, but struggling to keep that leaky boat afloat in a country of 325,000,000+ is ever more important, no?

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    • DrGadget March 16, 2017 at 5:01 am

      “able to deliver what commercial enterprises can’t.”

      No, commercial enterprises can deliver anything they want only better.

      (from article)
      “the government cannot continue to subsidize private organizations that are more than capable of being fully privately-funded”

      This isn’t the problem with libs. They’re worried that nobody will fund their extreme left propaganda. Liberalism doesn’t do well in radio or kids programs. Thus, govt funding.

      Just pull the plug on all of it. Don’t even announce it. Bam! It’s already done. Case closed. Only hardcore libs listen to NPR. PBS can and has gotten funding from Exxon-Mobile and “viewers like you”. But make sure to rescind the term PBS so it won’t be secretly re-funded some day. If it comes back, you know some lib brought it back.

      There are a billion channels, providers, and streaming services. Let them use one of those. I don’t even want the appearance of govt funding. Rescind both NPR and PBS.

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  14. Eagle525 March 15, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Ending tax payer support of public broadcasting is overdue. Public broadcasting masquerades as politically neutral but in truth is another propaganda arm of the democrat / liberal establishment.
    PBS is fully capable of supporting itself. As an illustration: Bill Moyers of PBS fame became very rich selling his PBS $ponsored (paid for) video tapes to the public and keeping the receipts.

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  15. Daniel Gray March 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    with all the **** and begging they show and do, its a complete wonder why they ever need any government money to start with. They make enough off of Big Bird to fund themselves for the next 40 years

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  16. jmac67 March 15, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Tell me, just how many “poor” people actually listen to NPR or watch/donate to PBS?

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    • ltuser
      ltuser March 16, 2017 at 12:19 am

      Since most of the poor get back MORE in a tax return than the payed, imo NONE!!!

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