One of the spending bills before the Senate today would cut all federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, but because CPB already raises 84 percent through private donations, such funding does not have to mean the end for organizations like NPR and PBS.
Public media is already well-diversified and has multiple funding streams to fall back on such that the 16 percent that comes from taxpayers could be replaced by other sources as it is phased out.
A key step for the continued success of these organizations is to redefine the debate to be about non-commercial media, rather than public media.
“Public media” will always be a contentious term and be subjected to endless politicization. “Non-commercial media,” by contrast is more value-neutral and should be easier for citizens of all ideological stripes to accept since it implies media that is not supported by advertising or subscriptions, but which is also free of forcible taxpayer subsidy.
More from Adam Thierer on this issue:
"'Non-Commercial Media' = Fine; 'Public Media' = Not So Much," The Technology Liberation Front, February 4, 2011
"A Debate on NPR about the Future of NPR," The Technology Liberation Front, February 15, 2011