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Millions prop up public-broadcasting salaries

Why should the large majority of our nation’s TV and radio stations and networks that are neither tax exempt nor government subsidized see part of their taxes – $445 million a year – be used to subsidize the tax-exempt Corporation for Public Broadcasting?

The Washington Post reports that Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn and South Carolina’s GOP Sen. Jim DeMint are leading the current drive to defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. That is the congressionally created entity that passes tax money to public radio and TV stations.

In a letter sent to congressional colleagues, which sought support for wiping out CPB’s federal funding, Rep. Lamborn cited the growing federal budget deficit. Then, in what is surely a compelling outrage, he reported that the president of tax-exempt and tax-subsidized public broadcasting, Paula Kerger, in 2010 was paid $603,403.

And former National Public Radio chief executive Ron Schiller was paid $479,011 in 2011.

“Certainly, thriving media entities that can afford to pay their executives such generous salaries should not be asking taxpayers to subsidize them,” wrote Lamborn.

The Post also reported:

“National Public Radio has operated at a deficit in three of the past four years. …

“Through March, NPR recorded a $2.6 million deficit, over and above what its endowment covers.”

“Halfway through its fiscal year – and six months into Gary Knell’s tenure as chief executive – Washington-based NPR has seen a sharp downturn in corporate ‘underwriting,’ or advertising revenue.” (NPR continues, despite remaining nonprofit and tax exempt, to broadcast very thinly disguised commercials.)

Gary Knell told the Post:

“NPR has been withdrawing from the bank, and we can’t keep doing that. We have to be at break-even or be in a positive position on an annual basis, or I can tell you at some point we’re going to have to turn the lights off.”

The Post did expose the very large salaries of PBS President Paula Kerger and NPR executive Schiller, but why was there no listing of the presumably high salaries and allowances of on-air personalities? And what about all those executives who go about raising money for these allegedly nonprofit and outrageously government-subsidized broadcasters?