From the National Association of Broadcasters office in Washington, D.C., I learned that in the United States there are 11,296 radio stations and 1,392 TV stations.
Of these 11,296 radio stations, 934 of them are affiliates of National Public Radio, while 368 of the 1,392 TV stations are affiliated with public broadcasting.
This means that almost 10 percent of our nation’s radio stations are not only tax-subsidized, they are also tax exempt – while all the rest of us who are on the air receive no such government subsidy at all, and all of our stations have to pay taxes.
The same monumental unfairness applies to three-fourths of our nation’s TV stations that are not part of public broadcasting.
An editorial in the Feb. 16 issue of the Washington Times notes the following:
“Last week, House Republicans formally proposed zeroing out the $531 million federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, much of which is used to fund NPR stations and programming. Mr. Obama countered in his budget proposal with proposed increases in CPB funding out to 2014. NPR rushed out a statement praising the ‘vote of confidence’ from the Obama administration, claiming that ‘public broadcasting is providing an essential service by informing and educating 170 million Americans every month,’ a mission they claim ‘is more relevant than ever.’ …
“FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski defended the ‘net neutrality’ rules that he rammed through the commission in December, which greatly expanded the ability of government to regulate how information on the Internet reaches the public.
“Americans like to think government censorship and attacks on a free press are problems in authoritarian lands far, far away. But here at home, the First Amendment is under assault by the Obama administration. Taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for its propaganda network.”
Unfortunately, the National Association of Broadcasters’ spokesperson with whom I spoke replied that the NAB “has no position” on congressional plans to eliminate the $531 million annual subsidy.
She repeated her “no comment” when I asked about the obvious commercial announcements that so often appear on National Public Radio – whose government subsidy and tax exemption is based on its status as a nonprofit institution.
If the salaries and allowances paid to executives and on-air personnel of NPR and CPB were all readily available for public inspection, I strongly suspect that such salary scales would be much higher than many of the more than 10,000 radio stations that have neither tax subsidies nor tax exemptions.
The Times editorial went on to note:
“[T]he Obama administration is seeking more direct means to regulate news media content. On Tuesday, Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps made his case for the government taking an even more activist role in media than simply helping underwrite public broadcasting. Mr. Copps argued that ‘real journalism’ is in decline, and that what the public is getting from news organizations is ‘too much opinion based on opinion and too little news based on fact.’”
Ladies and gentlemen – my fellow citizens of this historically free country – always be wary when any appointee of the Obama administration presumes to tell one part of the media what “real journalism” is – especially when his solution is to establish a “public value test,” a set of criteria broadcasters would have to fulfill before being allowed to renew their broadcast licenses and use airwaves “that belong exclusively to the people.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a wording-glorified distortion of what this Obamaite official believes is the Obama administration’s alleged right to control, and therefore censor, the airwaves.
Let me emphasize that there is only one authority a government of a free people should have or desire regarding broadcasting. The sole legitimacy of licensing is in order that one station’s broadcasting does not intrude into and disrupt a legitimately assigned broadcasting area of another station.
What the FCC’s Copps surely sounds like is an aficionado of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which forced stations (but never newspapers or magazines) to give equal time to alternate points of view. This was a form of censorship that was, most fortunately, opposed and put out of commission by a one-time broadcaster named Ronald Reagan.