Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Public Broadcasting

I am not so sure that doing away with public broadcasting is the sign of the apocalypse that the Times thinks it is. One problem is that Republicans are absolutely right when they say that NPR and PBS (have you ever listened to NPR?) are liberally biased. I have a lot of opinions that are considered liberal, but I don't think that their nationwide broadcast should be subsidized by the government. On this, it is clear that for half the nation, liberal proselytizing has positive externalities, for the other half it doesn't. That's a wash.

As far as music, children's programming, theatre, and the various other non-political services that public broadcasting provides, remind me again why these aren't viable in television and radio markets? Since PBS and NPR have decided not to solicit advertisers, instead opting for far more annoying pledge drives, we don't really know if their format is viable or not. But I suspect that even if it doesn't work out for them on the airwaves, there is a niche on cable and XM radio. Quality children's programming is not a public good! It is non-rival, yes, but it is not hard to exclude people from watching it (unless you insist on the open-air style of broadcast.) And because you can exclude people from watching it, you should be able to get someone to pay for it. All television and radio is non-rival! But we aren't subsidizing the Discovery Channel, the History Channel, ESPN, or Fox News so I see no reason why we should subsidize PBS.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you are well aware, we, the public, subsidize many things such as tobacco farming, arts, drug research, and so forth. If there existed a priority list of government subsidies, I'd place public TV and radio near the top. I don't know the extent of the dollars, but the patronage of listeners and watchers attests somewhat to the quality of interest. Of interest, we are currently subsidizing the building of an Iraqi army and government at about 1 billion dollars per week. I'd like to see the government list, entity by entity, all government subsidies. This list should be created and published monthly for the public viewing.

Additionally, I'd like to see a list of all bill ammendments (attachments)(pork) issued by congress. This too should be a regular publication. Both would help the public see exactly how the government works.

The fact NPR is "liberal" oriented probably is due to the fact that the intelligencia of the country is basically liberal. Conservatives can afford to back their own radio. They pour their funding into Limbaugh, Hannity and the like... and prefer not to listen to classical music or political banter that gives both sides of an issue with minimal spin.


1:08 PM  

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