Deficit Commission Says Subsidy to Rich via CPB Must End – Sorry, Big Bird

by Mike Wendy on November 11, 2010

The National Commission for Fiscal Responsibility and Reform came out with its first draft yesterday – and in it, the Commission urged that funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) be cut as one of numerous ways to reduce our sky-rocketing deficit.

Naturally, the Free Press is against the proposition.  Likewise, NPR – which depends to some degree on federal funding – is concerned, too.

Said NPR in the Hill: “It’s imperative for funding to continue to ensure that this essential tool of democracy survives and thrives well into the future,” adding (breathlessly), “[t]he National Commission’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for public media would have a profound and detrimental impact on all Americans.”

With the Juan Williams imbroglio last month, NPR apologists swore the public media broadcasters weren’t all that dependent on federal revenue.  So, it was OK to censor the Fox pundit.  Now this – it’s the end of Democracy if the Federal bucks stop (get your story straight, guys).

On the whole, CPB receives about 60% of its funding from private sources, with total non-federal revenue equaling nearly 84% (or about $2.4 billion out of $2.9 billion in total revenues).  So, if Uncle Sam knocked about $400 million out of CPB we’re doomed?  C’mon.

No doubt, CPB, PBS and NPR make good TV and radio product.  But, do we really need to fund CPB at current levels?  It’s obviously a balancing act.  A little is probably OK.  But, just a little.  And there, mainly to support programming where there is truly a “market failure,” such as programming for marginalized communities where no market exists.

Where it should not go is to help fund Sesame Street (sorry), or cooking, travel, talk shows or English comedies – all of which have ample private sector competition.  To fund this stuff at a time when abundant options abound seems like a none-too-subtle exercise to “Clockwork Orange” programming into our skulls, (thankfully, only upper-class households have to worry about that, because they’re the only ones watching).

No thanks.  I’ll watch Nickelodeon, the Travel Channel, The Discovery Channel, or rent Monty Python’s Holy Grail instead.

Clearly, something’s gotta’ be cut if we want America’s fiscal house in order.  If it’s a subsidy to “rich people TV,” then so be it.  I’d rather keep my home mortgage deduction over saving Big Bird’s fouled nest.

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