Wasn’t National Public Radio always NPR?
Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC and now National Public Radio is changing its name to NPR. I just wish the hosts and correspondents would refer to it "taxpayer-funded NPR."
I completely understand the argument against using tax dollars to fund news media. There is a very good, very sensible case against mixing the state and the free press. I also understand that there is a certain expected bias when the government is funding a media organization. The party against that sort of thing is likely to be viewed a little less favorably by the employees who work there. That bias is likely to translate into a certain amount of slant in the day-to-day reporting.
But – and here’s the catch for me at least – I also think that NPR does a pretty damn fine job at producing the news. Maybe that’s just a taste thing. But I enjoy having a radio station that isn’t devoted to shouting matches or extremely partisan and that isn’t littered with obnoxious commercials. I enjoy the level, sober reporting and analysis you get at NPR. I realize all of this is made possible by tax dollars, but a big part of me doesn’t care.
The arguments against state-run media are good ones, but I worry that we’d lose a very good source of news if we got rid of NPR. That would be a shame no matter how you spin it.
On average, public radio stations (including NPR Member stations) receive the largest percentage of their annual operating revenue (32.1%) from listener support. For FY08, the most recent data available, the average station’s revenues came from the following sources:
- 32.1% from listeners in the form of pledges, memberships, and other donations
- 21.1% from businesses via corporate underwriting
- 10.1% from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which is federally funded*
- 13.6% from licensee support (including colleges and universities)
- 9.6% from foundations and major gifts
- 5.8% from federal, state, and local governments
- 7.6% from all other sources.
*A note on CPB funding: There are 434 stations in 47 states and territories (including Guam and Puerto Rico) that specifically serve rural and minority communities; the latter includes numerous African-American, Native American, Latino, and multicultural licensees. In many cases, they are the sole local broadcasting service available. These stations receive significantly higher funding from CPB – in some cases, as much as two-thirds of their budgets – since many of their listeners simply don’t have the financial resources to provide support.