Thursday, March 17, 2011

First, Big Bird. Then Elmo. Now This? Pathetic.

NPR's defenders in Congress have begun downplaying the "you'll kill NPR!" rhetoric and have begun arguing that if NPR loses its federal handouts, poor, rural stations will vanish. Perhaps without realizing it, they've conceded a major point: NPR and the majority of its member stations will survive without federal subsidies.

If the case for keeping the subsidies rests on propping up rural radio stations, then Republicans could reach an easy compromise: cut funding for all but the backwater stations that cannot support themselves. Of course, that would raise another uncomfortable question: Why does Washington need to fund them?

If public radio's fans and underwriters were truly devoted to the mission of public radio, couldn't they step forward and raise the money needed to keep the small, rural stations alive? Or are they not as devoted to the mission as they claim?

As only one in 10 NPR listeners gives money to keep his own public radio station alive, the last question answers itself. According to NPR's own data, nine of 10 public radio listeners don't find the content important enough to pay for it. If 90 percent of NPR listeners refuse to fund it, why should the rest of us?

If NPR "needs" federal funding, it's not because its work is vital to the country or it fills a void in the market. It's because its own customers don't value it enough to pay for it. That's an argument for finding more sponsors and underwriters, not for sending the bill to the taxpayers.
Hat Tip: iOwnTheWorld