Kill Public Broadcasting; ThereAEs No Need for Government-Sponsored Radio and TV

Article excerpt


House Republicans introduced legislation on Tuesday to defund National Public Radio and public television. Democrats denounced the measure as excessively partisan, but their real gripe is that the targeted programs are centerpiece liberal institutions.

Proposals by Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican, would progressively defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) by fiscal 2015, to encourage CPB to operate exclusively on private funds. Currently, the CPB is funded at nearly half a billion dollars, which is used to underwrite public broadcasting nationwide. The bill also bans funding to pay dues to, acquire programs from, or otherwise support National Public Radio.

CPB President Pat Harrison made the standard defense of continued federal largesse, claiming that defunding poses a threat to the high-quality content, universal service and accountability of the public-broadcasting system that the government has fostered and ensured for the last 45 years. The longevity of the system actually argues against it, however. Public broadcasting was a product of President Lyndon JohnsonAEs notion of a Great Society, and was meant to fill gaps in the vast wasteland of 1960s broadcasting. In that bygone era dominated by AM radio and the big three television networks, there was allegedly no ready alternative to a government-backed system focused on less profitable educational and cultural programming.

Times have changed. Cable and satellite television, video on demand, podcasting, streaming and a variety of other options have fundamentally altered the programming landscape. Niche marketing has created the very type of private-sector program alternatives that 1960s social engineers thought only the government could deliver. Advances in technology have made programs easier and less expensive to produce and removed most of the barriers between content creators and the viewing and listening public. …