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Commentary By Howard Husock

Public Broadcasting Can Survive, and Even Improve, Without Federal Subsidies

In its formal budget proposal, the Trump administration has affirmed its previous proposal to end taxpayer support for public broadcasting. Fans of NPR and PBS can be forgiven for the belief that the end of taxpayer support will mean the end of what’s now called public media. This is simply not the case. Not only will both public radio and public broadcasting continue, they could even improve.

The public broadcasting system is not a centralized organization based in Washington and supported, in the main, by taxpayers. NPR and PBS are independently chartered non-profits, as are the system’s major production centers, such as WGBH, Boston and New York’s WNET, which provide content, ranging from Frontline to Live from Lincoln Center. So, too, are the 1000-plus local radio and television station license holders.

All have, to be sure, relied, to some extent, on the $445 million of federal funds distributed annually by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (on whose board of directors I sit). PBS, for instance, which commissions and distributes programming, gets some 15 percent of its revenue from CPB’s federal appropriation. That does not mean, however, that the system would not go on, absent such funds.

In post-subsidy public broadcasting, the core elements of the system....

Read the entire piece here at The Hill


Howard Husock is the Vice President of Research and Publications at the Manhattan Institute. From 1987 through 2006, he was director of case studies in public policy and management at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. This piece was adapted from the Spring 2017 Issue of City Journal.

This piece originally appeared in The Hill