Friday, March 11, 2011

Subsidizing Pleas for Subsidies

Notwithstanding the supposedly private views of certain now-former NPR executives, some public broadcasters are fighting to preserve their public subsidies:
NPR and PBS stations nationwide are rallying their audiences to contact Congress to fight against Republicans’ proposed spending cuts, but some affiliates’ pleas may violate laws preventing nonprofits or government-funded groups from lobbying.

Interrupting popular programs, the stations air warnings that cuts could end beloved children’s television shows such as "Sesame Street." Some stations urge their audience to call and let Congress know their feelings, while others go further, instructing viewers to "stop the Senate" or "defend federal funding" for public broadcasting.

The ad campaigns are a direct response to House Republicans’ push to eliminate all Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds for the rest of the fiscal year. Democrats have fought the cuts and President Obama asked for $451 million for CPB in his 2012 budget request -- a $6 million increase.

But lawmakers and conservative critics argue the stations are breaking two laws, one that prohibits using taxpayer-funded grants to petition Congress for more taxpayer money and the other that bans nonprofits from doing much lobbying of any kind.

With upward of $190,000 riding on the congressional spending fight, KBIA public radio at the University of Missouri has run radio and website ads urging listeners to "tell Congress funding for KBIA and other public broadcast is important to you," and also directed viewers to visit "170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting," a campaign created by public media executives that is fighting to save CPB’s taxpayer funding, which is distributed to more than 1,300 stations nationwide. . .

KBIA is one of the numerous public radio and television stations that are running ads aimed at getting a lawmaker’s ear while also being organized as nonprofits, which means they function as educational organizations. The payoff is that donations to them are tax-deductible, but they’re limited in what lobbying they can do as federal law says nonprofits cannot have a substantial part of their activities be designed to lobby government officials.
Whether or not such stations violate the tax laws -- I doubt the cost of such ads are "substantial" -- it's another example of taxpayer-funded entities manufacturing propaganda, as did fully Federal agencies such as Obama's National Endowment for the Arts and National Science Foundation.

The fact that public broadcasters waste money on trying to preserve their Federal subsidies is one of many good reasons for ending them. As WaPo's (moderate) Chuck Lane wrote:
It's time to end NPR's career as a political football. I love NPR, and, as the saying goes, if you love something, set it free.
(via reader Warren, reader Doug J.)

4 comments:

Lame-R said...

This is one reason I wish we could designate at least a portion of our taxes to our own preferred governmental charity; let there be a baseline percent of our taxes go for basic .gov operations so they can keep the lights on and the military, and then let us allocate the remaining percent to BLM/FDA/FCC/NIH/BATF/NHTSA/CPB/NEA/USDA/DOE--we could be here a while, but you get the picture...

Let us vote with our pocketbooks on government 'services', and leading up to April 15 enjoy all the ads by the various bureaus and departments saying "Support us!"

Lame-R said...

HOWEVER...I'd just as soon completely excise or otherwise greatly neuter a number of those departments and just lower everybody's taxes.

But I need to quit dreaming and get back to work...

Carl said...

Lame-R: Ok in theory, but in practice, it leads to California-like disasters where most of the public purse is dedicated to various poorly thought-out projects, such as the state's High-Speed Rail Authority--which now can only be revoked by referendum.

Smock Puppet said...

>>> But lawmakers and conservative critics argue the stations are breaking two laws, one that prohibits using taxpayer-funded grants to petition Congress for more taxpayer money and the other that bans nonprofits from doing much lobbying of any kind.

Those rules are not supposed to include our PET CAUSES, you Rethuglican Bastards!!!

:^9