The public broadcasting scam

The public broadcasting scam

As the battle over taxpayer funding of public broadcasting heats up, the esteemed Newton Minow weighs in with this defense of public television and radio:

As a nation, we support public broadcasting for the same reasons that we support public libraries, public parks, public schools and public hospitals. Why public libraries when we have bookstores? Why public parks when we have country clubs? Why public schools when we have private schools? Why public hospitals when we have private hospitals?

Sounds good, But, Newt, one big difference is that when we go into our public libraries, we don't find only books by and for liberals. Like Steve Chapman, I find it useful to listen to NPR, but to discover what's on the liberal agenda. (If you have doubts about its bias, check out this shocking video: a fundraiser trying to tag the tea party with the "racist" label, and other moronic stuff. This, too.)


And now, we have tax-supported public broadcasting using our money to lobby Congress to keep using our money to support public broadcasting. The Washington Times reports:

NPR and PBS stations nationwide are rallying their audiences to contact Congress to fight against Republicans' proposed spending cuts, but some affiliates' pleas may violate laws preventing nonprofits or government-funded groups from lobbying.

This is far from the world of communications we had in 1967 when President Lyndon Johnson and Congress created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our choices then were a lot more limited, and the desire to create "quality programming" free of the so-called leveling influences of advertising-driven commercial broadcasting was understandable. And as commendable as the motivation was, the reality was that it was eventually hijacked by partisans. 

Public broadcasting supporters are wrong when they say that quality programming, say for kids and for people looking for serious reporting, can't support itself in the competitive marketplace. Look at the selection of channels available today on cable. 

Minow and public broadcasting supporters are living in a world that's older than bellbottom trousers. Don't fool yourself; there's money to be had in public broadcasting and the Minows of the world know how to get it.


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  • I was wondering about the "public service spots" on WYCC to that effect. Since they yanked all their cooking shows, forget it. WTTW is now mostly commercials and pledge shows in which I have no interest. Bring back the cooking shows there, too.

    I'm surprised that the Tribune web site made more of the video than even you did, although you did embed it. After all, the ACORN story was only a cable news one to them until the anal excrement really hit the fan.

  • Just the fact that you refer to it as "broadcasting" tells me that you do not know the territory. What public media provides today is so vast, not simply for the average TV viewer. Millions of kids use the PBS and NPR website for research and archival material. Teachers use it and curricula programs - all free - to refresh and create classroom materials. Local stations provide thousands of hours of in-school programming, college credit courses and training for licensed day care providers, emergency workers, nurses for continuing education, etc. Also they provide many hours of local programs and fora for our civic life and local cultural and sports events. What is a scam is the "liberal" invective used as a reflex action to put down a statement within a program that is not agreeable, as if that epitomizes public media's thousands of hours of programming each year. Research and learn, if you can, about your subject matter before making yourself appear shallow and unknowing. I'm embarrassed for you. It's federal dollars that support local stations in the most rural and least populated areas of the U.S. Those dollars are not what keeps the big stations going; it's their local users.

  • First, public broadcasting only gets like $430 million. That's a drop in the bucket.

    Second, Tea Partiers ARE racist, xenophobic bigots. That's just a fact.

    Last, I like to consider myself a conservative if not an outright Republican. And I agree that funding for public broadcasting should be cut, but not for the reasons you list above. I say cut the funding because it's not an essential feature of the government. The framers didn't visualize PBS when they wrote the Constitution. In the strictest sense, government should provide the most basic services i.e. protection against foreign invasion. PBS doesn't qualify.

  • To Andy-Kid: Whether education to the least of our citizens is not essential is something that I'll ponder, but not too long. If it is non-essential that we are after, let's start with 2 unfunded wars. Then there are the four times national average for family of four salaries of each member of congress and throw in their more than well-funded with tax-payer monies lifetime healthcare, lifetime pensions, free in-House doctor, and ability to take all the lobbyists funds they can stash away. Oh, did I mention the $87 billion of annual corporate welfare - see CATO Institute web site; or all of the largest corporations who pay no taxes - see Forbes magazine and 2008 GAO report. I have a larger list but this is a start.

  • Ok, cut all that stuff you mentioned too. War? Done. Congress salaries and benefits? Slash in half. That's my point. $430 million is nothing compared to some of the other spending items. I say instead of focusing on public television, something I quite enjoy on Saturday mornings, focus on the bigger picture.

    What's the phrase: Not seeing the forest for the trees. Something like that.

  • OK Andy. I'm with you. Let's go after the big stuff and then turn to the fine tuning of the little stuff. Then I can take the cutting seriously and push aside the cultural, religious and political ideology that interferes with the economics of the work to be done. I happen to think that all in congress (and some on the supreme court) are on the payrolls of the corporations and vested interests. A little reform there would also be nice.

  • NPR is not much better than the corporate media but has a role to play. Bryne wants only those with money lots of it, to control national discourse. my taxpayer money goes to wars of aggression, the religious fanatics in Israel who think god is in the real estate business and bronze age holy books are title deeds,various dictators like Mubarak and his ilk, subsidizing oil companies and other corporations, not to mention other assorted boondoggles including a defense budget bigger than the rest of the world combined. A few cents on public radio is well spent in comparison.

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