Commentary Magazine


A Public Radio Shell Game

NPR’s funding has come under attack in the wake of the Juan Williams debacle. NPR claims that only a tiny portion of its funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A reader e-mails:

A lot has been written about how the network only gets a couple million from taxpayers. This is very misleading … actually wrong. CPB gives scores of millions of dollars to NPR affiliates which, in turn, use that money to purchase NPR programming such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, etc.

Tax dollars used to go directly to NPR from CPB but this changed in 1987. … Funding was reduced significantly to NPR but substantially increased to local affiliates. At the same time, NPR increased the “dues” levied on these affiliates to maintain its income. That is to say, it’s a bit of a shell game, because the funding simply now travels through a local station to NPR. It’s very disingenuous of NPR to say it doesn’t get a lot of tax money.

When the new Congress convenes in January and reviews funding for CPB, it should look at all the money flowing to NPR, and PBS to boot. All of it.