Way back in 1962 the federal government thought it was a good idea to support educational television. This came in the form of the Educational Television Facilities Act. Put simply if funded the construction of educational television stations at Universities, Schools, State-Agencies and Community Corporations. This simple 36 million dollar 5 years investment has grown into a 440 million dollar a year behemoth of questionable educational benefit.
In 1967 LBJ bought us the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. the original appropriation for this organization was 5 million dollars. But like any government program it begged and pleaded and in 1970 the congress appropriated 15 million dollars for the CPB. Three times the original money in one year. As I have said the budget is now 440 million based solely on Congressional appropriations. They proudly boast that only 5% of the appropriation goes to administration. Okay let’s see that in real numbers 20,000,000. So it takes 20 mil to just run this behemoth. 20 million of our money used to send our other 396 million to NPR and PBS. Where even a liberal like Juan Williams is so far right they decided to fire him. Notice I said 396 million. That is because they don’t count “system Support” in the administrative costs. That little omission is listed separately and cost another 24 million. So in actuality it is more like just over 10% to run the show.
Even the listeners are cutting back on the consumption of information from NPR. The Radio Research Consortium a not-for-profit organization whose sole purpose is to support public radio stations with ratings information will tell you that loyalty is down. They have their own definition of loyalty but regardless the trend is down for NPR. I will bore you no further. Look it up.
Almost all households except the poorest of poor have cable. or access to HD TV via antenna. With all the offerings in the cable world and all of the money flowing into Public Broadcasting from grants why do they need federal funding? We are not talking about outlawing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But we can certainly set it free from federal funding and allow it to decide its own mandate and sink or swim on that merit. And just to provide a right hook. We ought to do the same for rails. More on that later.