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‘Free’ Public Radio Is Anything But. NPR raises the battle cry to avoid losing taxpayer money
National Review ^ | 02/23/2011 | Bruce Edward Walker

Posted on 02/23/2011 8:29:39 AM PST by SeekAndFind

National Public Radio listeners are being inundated with warnings that they soon may have to drive to work every morning without the sonorous intonations of Morning Edition’s Corey Flintoff, Steve Inskeep, and Renée Montagne, and may be forced to drive home without the narrative drone of All Things Considered’s Robert Siegel, Michele Norris, and Melissa Block.

Just this morning, I received a panicked e-mail from the director of broadcasting at an NPR affiliate in my home state, Michigan. You know, one of those state-based public-radio operations that just last October received a portion of George Soros’s $1.8 million Open Society Foundation gift to hire two government reporters in each of the 50 states; one of the same group of radio stations benefiting from the Joan Kroc Foundation’s $200 million endowment in 2003; one of the same stations that host interminable on-air fundraisers at least twice a year.

They are warning that Congress may eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity that heaps money on 900 NPR affiliates across the country.

The warnings reek of disingenuousness.

After all, crying poverty is public broadcasting’s modus operandi. If it didn’t do it extremely well, no one would donate during those radiothons, corporations wouldn’t spend huge sums of money to sponsor programming, and “people just like you” wouldn’t forgo paying the cable bill so they could help meet a challenge grant from their neighbors and co-workers.

As an example of how much begging public radio does, Wisconsin Public Radio — a network of 32 stations programmed by seven regional stations – reported that 13 percent of its total budget in 2009 was used for fundraising. Additionally, the network’s website reveals that 25 percent ($1.94 million) of the revenues garnered from listener and corporate donations ($6.25 million and $1.58 million, respectively) are directly allocated to fundraising.

So it came as no surprise when I received the director’s e-mail, which warns, “I believe this is one of the most serious challenges to public broadcasting that we have ever faced.”

Not mentioned in his emotional appeal are the substantial costs American taxpayers are stuck with.

According to dedicated public-broadcasting professionals at several stations in Michigan with whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking without a single Freedom of Information Act request, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting allocates federal tax dollars every year to state NPR affiliates. Station personnel I interviewed this past week said that the sums granted to affiliates range from $258,000 to approximately $450,000 annually.

Why, that’s “only $1.35 per American per year,” according to the e-mail. But not every one of the 300-plus million people in the United States is forced to pony up that buck thirty-five. If we hypothetically assume that 150 million people file federal tax returns and that half of those receive substantial refunds, that makes NPR’s share more like $5.40 per person. That’s still relatively insignificant for enlightened fans of Terry Gross and Diane Rehm — but it’s $5.40 more than most of the people who don’t listen to public radio would pay if they had a choice.

Moreover, the public “donations” don’t stop at direct coercion by the federal government. State taxpayers cover a big chunk of public radio’s bill through subsidies to state universities and colleges that house transmitters, offices, studios, and utilities. One publicly supported station in Michigan told me that this arrangement amounts to 12 percent ($405,159) of its annual budget. Wisconsin Public Radio has a similar 10 percent ($1.6 million) “indirect/in-kind” arrangement.

In addition, there is often direct support from the colleges and universities, which again are supported by taxpayers. In many cases the college’s board of trustees owns the broadcast license of the station nestled on its campus, so a line-item designation is included in the college’s annual budget. The Michigan public university referred to above bestows $1.1 million on its public-radio station (that’s 32.8 percent of the station’s total annual revenues). Likewise, Wisconsin colleges contributed 23 percent of Wisconsin Public Radio’s $16 million revenues in 2009.

There are plenty of other arguments for defunding public radio (and public television as well), but the basic one is this: Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to support the luxury of public radio.

— Bruce Edward Walker ( is managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: budget; defundnpr; liberalmedia; npr; publicradio; taxpayer

1 posted on 02/23/2011 8:29:42 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

“But taxpayer money is such a TINY portion of NPR’s budget, so it wouldn’t be worth cutting.” That’s the sort of thing their supporters/surrogates were saying just a couple of weeks ago.

2 posted on 02/23/2011 8:36:36 AM PST by ConjunctionJunction
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To: SeekAndFind

First they said pfft to losing gubmn’t money, it was only a “small portion”, since they’re about to lose it, it’s a completely different story.

How much money does Sesame Street make, with everything they sell? They could just live off of that money and leave us the heck alone!

Between Sesame Street and Soros it should be as easy as taking a lollipop from a baby!

3 posted on 02/23/2011 8:40:51 AM PST by NoGrayZone (Hell really is a bottomless pit of fire. Which side of the line are you going to choose? Palin/West)
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To: SeekAndFind
Whoa...hold's coming...wait for it...

Damn, thought I felt a tear developing.

4 posted on 02/23/2011 8:44:35 AM PST by AJ504 (The Constitution was NOT written on an Etch-A-Sketch!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Intone sononous... sums it up nicely

5 posted on 02/23/2011 8:46:25 AM PST by rahbert (" ..but you know all this. You're a Captain")
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To: SeekAndFind

Put a line item on the Federal Tax Forms

“Donation of $1 to fund PBS/NPR” check**don’t check

Even put in a blank space if people want to give more - knock yourself out.....

6 posted on 02/23/2011 8:48:28 AM PST by libertarian27 (Ingsoc: Department of Life, Department of Liberty, Department of Happiness)
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To: SeekAndFind

Defund NPR!!! No taxpayer money for commies!!!

7 posted on 02/23/2011 8:54:21 AM PST by CPT Clay (Pick up your weapon and follow me.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Only if they run Rush for 3 hours everyday.

8 posted on 02/23/2011 8:56:32 AM PST by TribalPrincess2U (They don't need to do another 911. They have BHO and the Fleebaggers.)
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To: SeekAndFind


9 posted on 02/23/2011 9:08:25 AM PST by AngelesCrestHighway
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To: rahbert

to me they sound like homos - not that there’s anything wrong with that.

10 posted on 02/23/2011 9:11:04 AM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: TribalPrincess2U

I doubt if Rush would want to be on NPR - - advertisers pay his salary, not taxpayers.

I wish NPR would run Chris Mathews 24/7. Liberals seem to love him - - give them all they want!

11 posted on 02/23/2011 9:11:51 AM PST by Loud Mime (If it is too stupid to be said, people will listen to it if sung - - Voltaire)
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To: NoGrayZone

In 1995, all this was brought up when Congress wanted to defund NPR and the excuses used back then are still the same excuses used today not to defund.

The “small portion” excuse is used on about every tax the Feds pass. Like the “Gore” tax for internet access. Check your phone bill and see the taxes that are applied. Small amount for an individual but millions for the Feds to spend on what they think is important.

12 posted on 02/23/2011 9:51:49 AM PST by Caribou ( Red State Radio free streaming. RIP Mark Shannon)
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To: Caribou

Please don’t ask me to look at my phone bill (I only have cell, no use in having a landline).

They have doubled the amount of money needed for us to keep this service. It is actually listed TWICE. Once for the phone company then another for the government.

I try to ignore that part....only gets me ticked off!!

13 posted on 02/23/2011 10:03:03 AM PST by NoGrayZone (Hell really is a bottomless pit of fire. Which side of the line are you going to choose? Palin/West)
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s really pretty simple: government doesn’t subsidize any other media. Why do they (WE) pay for a radio and TV network?

Defund NPR and CPB now. The sky won’t fall. Plague won’t stalk the countryside or fire sweep the city streets. Millions won’t perish in cold, dark ignorance if Nina Totenberg or David Sedaris have to find real jobs.

We’ll live.

14 posted on 02/23/2011 10:24:01 AM PST by IronJack (=)
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To: SeekAndFind
I'm hoping to hear:

“This concludes NPR’s broadcast day” and they never return to the air.

They can suffer in purgatory with the Air America “journalists” and the YOUTUBE loser on Young Turks. How does he manage to be wrong EVER time?!?! He's a statistical oddity

15 posted on 02/23/2011 11:20:02 AM PST by PATRIOT1876 (The only crimes that are 100% preventable are crimes committed by illegal aliens)
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To: Caribou

“...the “Gore” tax...”

Kudos to you Caribou!

Most people I talk to about it have no clue what the AlGore tax is — I usually get a dumb blank stare when I mention it. That is usually followed by Libtard talking point number three: “No it’s not!”

Oh well, I’ve managed to educate a FEW people...

16 posted on 02/23/2011 12:43:26 PM PST by Peet (Leftists think personal liberty is so important it must be carefully rationed.)
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To: SeekAndFind

NPR could be out of business by June if the Republican governors who own the public radio stations would instruct the station managers to shelve NPR programming on pain of being terminated or having the station defunded..

17 posted on 02/23/2011 12:50:29 PM PST by bert (K.E. N.P. N.C. D.E. +12 ....( History is a process, not an event ))
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To: SeekAndFind

Good one more Lefty outfit we don’t have to fund anymore.

18 posted on 02/23/2011 12:55:27 PM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I think the author means the programs I call “Morning Sedition” and “All Things Distorted”. If I really want a treat I can cruise to KPFT and listen to “Hypocrisy Now”.

19 posted on 02/23/2011 3:07:28 PM PST by jimt
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RE: “This concludes NPR’s broadcast day” and they never return to the air.

I have NEVER believed that NPR would entirely go off the air. In so far as they are part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, they really DO have excellent shows that people watch ( e.g. Sesame Street, the concert specials, etc. ).

So if they do get defunded and have to rely on private advertisements and donations, the idiotic liberal shows (like the one that gave trouble to Juan Williams ) might die out as fewer and fewer people watch them, while the excellent shows like Sesame Street will continue to thrive.

Which makes them .... horrors to the liberals ... LIKE ANY OTHER BROADCASTING BUSINESSES OUT THERE !!

20 posted on 02/23/2011 3:08:49 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: IronJack

Right on. They have a website up claiming that 170,000,000 Americans listen. I find that very hard to swallow, that would be half the country.

Now I’ll admit there are a couple of shows I enjoy, mainly Car Talk, but the rest is leftwing claptrap and I don’t want to pay for it. If they can’t sell advertising and make a successful business out of their shows, then Buh-Bye.

21 posted on 02/27/2011 11:58:48 AM PST by West Texas Chuck (Eat the young, 100 million guppies can't be wrong.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Iowa Public TV is coming up on their “festival” - I can only presume it will include more of what has been the occasional promo “begging” viewers to lobby congress not to cut funding for public broadcasting....

22 posted on 02/27/2011 12:02:41 PM PST by Keith in Iowa (FR Class of 1998 | TV News is an oxymoron. | MSNBC = Moonbats Spouting Nothing But Crap.)
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