Friday, March 11, 2011

From Your Biggest Fan: NPR, Wean Yourself

Nobody is a bigger fan of NPR than SWNID. Take that, liberals who imagine that conservatives get all their news from Fox! We spend about two orders of magnitude more time with NPR than with Murdoch's broadcasts, or Limbaugh or Beck or anyone or all of them together. Our most punched pre-set is for WVXU. We have presets for NPR affiliates in Oxford, Indianapolis and Chicago, so that we can listen more or less continuously on our most-traveled road trips. We can name reporters for All Things Considered and Morning Edition on the basis of their articulating less that one word. We've heard Susan Stanberg talk about her grandmother's cranberry relish about 120 times.

We're also pretty much into PBS. We rejoice that digital broadcast brings us about a dozen PBS channels to us. Life without American Experience or American Masters or Great Performances or even Nightly Business Report is unthinkable to us.

And we have never given Public Broadcasting a dime, and won't until NPR and PBS and CPB are unfunded by USA. And we might not then, either, because we are cheap and prefer to give to things that we believe in as opposed to those that we merely enjoy. But we dare/beg/insist that the government unfunding begin (N.B. that because the CPB is funded two years in advance, the pain won't be felt until networks and stations have oodles of time to adjust their budgets, just like actual businesses wish they did).

And when public broadcasting is federally unfunded, we hope that they'll make their advertising (a.k.a. "underwriting") explicit. It won't need to be rude like for-profit TV. But we don't think that Exxon sponsors Masterpiece Classic because it likes British costume drama. There's a reason why the radio network's last two initials are "PR."

And when they are unfunded, we hope that competitors arise. Remember when A&E was about Arts and Entertainment? When the History Channel was about history?

What if the Gray Lady used its considerable news-gathering and arts-criticism operations' excess capacity to create a radio network that does what NPR does, which is largely radio coverage of what's appeared earlier in the Times? Might they do that if they weren't competing with a subsidized entity? Might it "save" that misguided but estimable organization, now deep in a fiscal death-spiral?

Liberal bias? Well, we've been listening and watching for longer than most of America has been alive, and we can tell you that if anything, NPR and PBS have become more ideologically balanced than they were, say, in the Reagan Administration, when "Radio Sandinista" was an apt moniker. But really, who cares, unless we're all taxed to pay for it, and who is going to referee the establishment of objectivity? Where are the islands of objectivity in this great sea of bias that we all drown in?

Public broadcasting is elitist. As a self-styled elite, we like that. But we don't think that the lumpenproletariat ought to help pay for it. Its fans are richer than its non-fans. Let us have all of it that we will pay for.

8 comments:

Christian said...

Here, here!

Anonymous said...

Self-styled? Perhaps you should get a stylist.

Q said...

I prefer the un-government funded, unleashed energetic, and full American church over the government funded dying empty European church.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Christian, it is "Hear! Hear!" not "Here, here!" Of course, it is a free country so you can say it incorrectly if you want.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

We encourage the ironic use of homophones on this blog.

tom_KY said...

Although I don't listen to NPR nearly as much as the SWIND, I still enjoy it and It doesn't bother me in the least that NPR and PBS have public funding, because of the reason that the SWIND just mentioned.

Listeners are unwilling to subsidize it themselves, preferring to free-ride off of MY contribution, but I just can't have enough Elvis Presley or John Denver material (according to my iTunes, I have 8 versions of Rocky Mountain High - how many do I need?!?)

Public broadcasting's slice of the federal budget is a rounding error off of the rounding error. It costs the average taxpayer about $1.50 a year. It's like Congress saying they are going to cut their staff budgets 5%. It costs me .24 cents a year - heck - triple it! Make sure someone can answer constituent mail.

If you want to get competitive, free-market, Adam Smith over something, give me the money I have paid into social security at a fair interest rate - eliminate the program altogether - and I'll take my business out on the open market.

Until then, CAR TALK!!!

JB in CA said...

And when public broadcasting is federally unfunded, we hope that they'll make their advertising (a.k.a. "underwriting") explicit. It won't need to be rude like for-profit TV ...

But, of course, that's what will eventually happen.

Public broadcasting's slice of the federal budget is a rounding error off of the rounding error. It costs the average taxpayer about $1.50 a year.

I think this is clear evidence that Republicans aren't really serious about cutting government spending. If they were, they would simply cut every program by a few percentage points. 5%, say, of our three trillion-dollar budget is a lot of money (150 billion, to be precise).

If they were to propose spreading the pain in that way, they would have the support of most Americans. But, like the Democratic Party, what they really care about is scoring political points, so, instead, they go after politically charged programs whose budgets amount to a mere pittance (such as NPR) or those that they know they have no chance of eliminating (such as the new health care legislation).

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Seriously, gentlemen, one can indict the Rs historically for lack of fiscal seriousness (though it doesn't excuse the recklessness of the last two years of donkenomics), but it's not serious to say they aren't serious because the CPB isn't a serious part of the very serious deficit. If you can't cut the easy stuff right away, you'll never get around to cutting the hard stuff.

But this is principle as much as prudence: the government doesn't have any business subsidizing any kind of broadcasting.