NPR AND PBS: GO IT ALONE


I like National Public Radio and the Public Broadcast System. I really do. Although many criticize public broadcasting for its alleged liberal bias, the quirky news/feature stories on NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition generally are good journalism, informative and entertaining, much like the thoroughly engaging features on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. PBS has aired some of the best programs on TV over the years. Mystery (now Masterpiece Mystery) and Masterpiece Theater, well, they are just top-notch. But, unlike the Wall Street Journal, NPR (and PBS) is, in part, funded with money Americans pay in taxes to the federal government.

As David Harsanyi at Reason.com says,

Though there is little to be offended by in most of NPR’s programming, public radio and television cater almost exclusively to the sensibilities of the urban liberal. Not that there’s anything wrong with being an urban liberal, of course.

Indeed. But if one is a taxpayer who doesn’t like NPR and PBS’s liberal bias (which they deny, but which is SO apparent)–it certainly rankles me, though for the most part I ignore it and take the good with the bad–one justifiably may question why he or she has to contribute (through taxes, not direct contributions that mainly support public radio and TV).

The federal government should not be funding radio and television programming. Is it National Propaganda Radio and Propaganda Broadcast System? It could be. In the event, would those who now defend public funding for NPR and PBS do so if they were broadcasting with a distinct conservative or right-wing bias? Of course not. The case now is that, as conservatives call for the government to defund public broadcasting, NPR and PBS have to feign unbiased journalism to try to save the money they get from the federal government. As Harsanyi points out, however, public broadcasting could be supported adequately by its listeners and viewers:

But this [urban liberal] demographic also happens to be blessed with the financial means to ensure that NPR remains a vibrant source of news.

So it should eschew public funding just so it can maintain its integrity. Go it alone, NPR and PBS! That way, you don’t have to pretend to be more centrist in your political viewpoints. In a free-market system, if demand is there for the likes of NPR and PBS, it will be met by private funding. Become National Private Radio and Private Broadcast System and I might even contribute (although I still will hold my nose when the liberal bias surges over the airwaves).

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6 Responses to NPR AND PBS: GO IT ALONE

  1. NPR AND PBS: GO IT ALONE « erigo abyssus…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. Dave Thomas says:

    Although many of you might state to the contrary,..Public television is an important part of the U.S. broadcasting network,and believe it or not is seen all over the world like the BBC..It may be socially biased but all forms of telecommunication are…There are plenty of non liberal media enclaves available, that are government funded in part. There is good and bad in everything we see or read.We have to be smart enough to dissern the difference.

    • Dave Thomas says:

      Evidently,….I’m not smart enough to spell discern…….lol

    • cctruckston says:

      What other media are government funded, and how? Yes there is some bias in all media, but, unlike NPR and PBS, we don’t have to pay for it with our tax money. None of what you state matters; what matters is that the federal government should not fund any media. The concept of a free press applies here: No media is free (of government influence) if it is funded, even in a small amount, by government.

  3. bella gerens says:

    Even the BBC, respected though it be, is not free from government influence. The BBC Trust is meant to be an independent body that advocates for licence-fee payers and is responsible for maintaining the corporation’s integrity against government pressure, but… the Trustees are appointed by the government.

    Not to mention that it’s a bit difficult to claim to be an independent broadcaster when the government’s legislation enforces your funding, and the government’s officers of the law are provided to you free of charge to assist you in enforcing fund collection.

    It’s not at all uncommon here to receive random threatening letters from the TV Licensing authority, demanding uninvited entry to your house to inspect whether you have any unlicensed television sets, under threat of issuing you a £1000 fine. And this unwarranted harassment is all on behalf of that great public service, the BBC.

    • cctruckston says:

      Strengthens my case, that does. Even a supposed firewall between government officials and its state-sponsored media can be breeched so easily. And this when some people in the US media, trying to come up with ideas to stem the flood of losses among newspapers, are proposing that the federal government fund a quasi-governmental (read, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) company that would provide much needed capital for private newspaper companies. Freedom of the press? Load of shit. Of course, the political proclivities of most in the American media tend toward federal government management, if not ownership, of everything.

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