Why is National Public Radio So Heavily Government Subsidized? - And Response

  • Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Why is National Public Radio so heavily government subsidized?

Eight percent federal funding*

Five percent state and local funding*

Ten percent state and federally subsidized colleges and universities*

By their own admission NPR is not viable and “Federal funding is essential”.

Oh yes, I’d prepared for the perennial indignant NPR fan base abuse/response but I hope they will actually address my question: “Why is National Public Radio so heavily government subsidized?”

*From their 2020 “About” link

Steve Campbell

* * * 

It’s not surprising that Mr. Campbell shows his personal bias against NPR listeners by stating “Oh yes, I’m prepared for the perennial indignant NPR fan base abuse/response”.  This is another clear example of attempting to further divide us, rather than recognizing differing opinions and news sources. 

This statement proves that he is not really interested in any subsidization of NPR. Nor is there respect for NPR listeners and differing opinions.  And many reading his letter also have the same opinion of how despicable and wrong NPR listeners must be. The misuse of the inflammatory word "heavily", as I’ll prove below, is solely to appeal to those who dislike NPR and would like its programming eradicated from the airwaves. 

I’m sure that there are some indignant NPR fans. But branding the NPR fan base (and I am one) as “perennial indignants” is as offensive as being branded “a basket of deplorables” or an observation that Fox News viewers are “neanderthals”.  These descriptions do not apply to the entire populace of the listeners or viewers.

I wish I knew how much he actually listened to NPR’s informative programming.   I suspect it's very little in comparison to the for-profit network shows, like FOX’s Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham, which I suspect are his pre-dominant choices, and are commentary, not news.  

But Mr. Campbell asks a fair question.  However, his statement that subsidization from “Ten percent state and federally subsidized colleges and universities” is incorrect.

I am inferring that his use of the word “subsidized” in his question means those state and federally subsidized colleges and universities provide money identically to Federal, State, and Local funding, meaning grants, donations or hand-outs with nothing in return.

That is not the case.  Those colleges and universities do not “subsidize” NPR.  They are customers of NPR, purchasing valuable programing.  Those colleges and universities are not making grants, donations or hand-outs.

He is also incorrect that eight percent of the subsidization is from Federal Funding.  Many sources are available confirm that funding to be only one percent (one example is from a critical opinion of NPR published by TheHill.com on 6/22/2022).

No, Mr. Campbell.  NPR is not “heavily” subsidized.  Assuming the five percent funding by State and Local entities, the subsidization is only six percent, which is not really “heavily”.

To answer the question of why is NPR subsidized, Federal, State and Local election officials see the need for NPR to provide programming beyond the typical formats of right/left politics, top forty, golden oldies, rock, country, religious, etc.  Go to the WUTC/Your Shows webpage and the NPR/Podcast and Shows website, and see the variety, which is far broader, I suspect, than CNN, MSNBC and Fox combined. 

Those officials choose to subsidize NPR for its value, just as they subsidize industry for its value through tax breaks or public use bonds.

I challenge Mr. Campbell and all readers to listen regularly to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered.  If they listen with an open mind, they will find factual, unbiased reporting not found on for-profit networks.

Joe Warren

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