This Won’t Help The Public Broadcasting Cause

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has an op-ed published in the WSJ today opining that “it’s time to get the government out of public broadcasting.”  All of his points are sound, but he provides a few simple facts that, if presented early and often, could determine the fate of taxpayer funding for our liberal public broadcasters:

  • PBS President Paula Kerger is paid “$632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file. . . .”
  • “According to CPB’s 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $298,884 in reportable compensation and another $70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year.”
  • “Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, . . . received more than $1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.”
  • “Meanwhile, . . . ‘Sesame Street,’ for example, made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006. Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 in compensation in 2008.

I have no problem with these numbers, per se.  If the organizations’ respective boards and donors think these chief executives are worth their compensation, then they are free to pay whatever the market requires (and tax code allows, if it speaks to executive compensation for non-profits). 

But taxpayers have no business subsidizing large compensation packages for executives at organizations that clearly have no need for such massive subsidies.  More importantly, the public has no need for these highly subsidized organizations.* 

Cable and satellite television are virtually ubiquitous, even in rural areas.  Six years ago, Consumer Electronics Association study concluded that just 12% of televisions were used for traditional over-the-air television reception, meaning that 88% were being used for satellite or cable or dedicated to dvd movies or game playing.  In other words, almost everyone who wants it has access to a vast array of high quality news, educational, and entertainment programming. 

* Sidebar — Some contend that the subsidy is a small part of public broadcasting revenues, so they are not highly subsidized.  If that is true, then the money is not essential and there is even less reason to continue providing it.

Published in: on March 4, 2011 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

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