News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Cut tax funds for public broadcasting?

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was established in 1967, when three national television networks dominated the airwaves. Today, the broadcast media offer a diverse mix of content over the air, and via cable and satellite. It may have once been true that a publicly financed source of "quality programming" and diverse opinion was necessary to ensure access to highbrow entertainment, and news and opinions not available elsewhere. But now, the History and Discovery channels, Public Radio International, American Public Media and Sirius satellite radio, among others, compete effectively with National Public Radio and PBS. If NPR and public television cannot survive in such an environment without taxpayer subsidies, they should be allowed to go the way of the dodo bird. In today's information-heavy media marketplace, no one should have special privileges. NPR has sponsors that can fill the funding gap. — William F. Shughart II, Independent Institute

President Johnson was right when he created public broadcasting as part of his Great Society. He recognized that people do not live by bread alone — that access to great music, great art and great literature ennoble even the most humdrum life. TV's PBS and radio's NPR must stay on the air because they provide millions of Americans with enlightening programs not available on network television, cable or private radio. Freedom from ads on public broadcasting is like a sunny day in the country and worth every taxpayer nickel. And one more thing: Be sure to watch veteran journalist Jim Lehrer. His "NewsHour" is good, in-depth journalism — expanding the minute or two that network and cable news give to major news stories into illuminating background features with commentary from experts who often broaden our understanding with their nuanced disagreement. In short, the good of public broadcasting far outweighs the bad. — Bogdan Kipling, McClatchy-Tribune