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Subject: Re: PBS, NEA etc.
From: Mark Schubin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Mark Schubin <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 21 Jan 2017 11:28:09 -0500

text/plain (106 lines)

There has been a lot of discussion here lately about PBS, starting
with the possibility of its being privatized.  I thought I should
clarify a bit.

PBS is and has always been a private corporation, so it cannot "be
privatized."  It stands for the Public Broadcasting Service, and it is
a service to its member stations.  PBS does not own any broadcast
stations, though it provides some unencrypted direct-to-home satellite
programming (with relatively few viewers).  PBS receives some
government funding, mostly through the private Corporation for Public
Broadcasting (CPB, see below) but also from others.  The very popular
"A Capitol Fourth" program (which sometimes includes opera singers),
for example, is made possible, in part, by the National Park Service
and the Department of the Army.  Besides limited government funding,
PBS receives member fees, corporate and foundation funding, and also
money from individuals.

PBS provides television programming.  Besides that direct-to-home
satellite service, PBS programming is carried by TV stations at their
option.  PBS can provide opera and have no stations carry it.  Not all
U.S. public television stations are PBS members.  A major example of a
public television station that is not a PBS member is KCET in Los
Angeles.  Like PBS, local U.S. public television stations receive
funding from many sources, including CPB.  Some are parts of
educational institutions or local governments.  WNYE-TV, for example,
was originally part of the State University of New York, then the New
York City Board of Education, and now the New York City Department of
Information Technology and Telecommunications.  Some public television
stations have commercial subsidiaries.  WQED sold its Pittsburgh
Magazine, originally a program guide.  The commercial classical music
superstation WFMT is owned by Chicago public television station WTTW.

NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is similar to PBS but for radio.
Its funding structure and that of its member stations and also
non-member U.S. public radio stations is similar to that of public
television.  There is no financial or managerial connection between
PBS and NPR, though some public radio and TV stations in the U.S. are

CPB is a private corporation that was created by the U.S. Congress in
the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 (RCA, similarly, started as a
private corporation created by the U.S.).  CPB funnels government
funding for public broadcasting to stations and programming.  They are
required by law to submit to Congress their funding plans five years
in advance.  Around budget time each year, regardless of party in
control, stories appear about a reduction or end to CPB funding, but
it endures.  For 2016, CPB received an appropriation of $445 million
from the U.S. government, the same amount they requested.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is, in fact, an independent
federal agency and could conceivably be shut down or privatized.  Its
entire funding appropriation in 2016, however, was less than $150
million, or, to put it in opera terms, less than half of the Met’s
annual budget.  Its role in public broadcasting funding, therefore,
has been less financial than as an imprimatur: with a few thousand
dollars from NEA, a program producer might better be able to get
corporate and foundation funding.

NEA and CPB funding, combined, came to less than $600 million in
fiscal 2016.  Many NEA grants had nothing to do with broadcasting.  A
loss of all U.S. government funding to the arts would be painful, but,
given many other funding sources, by no means lethal.


On Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 9:10 PM, Michael Liebert <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Thu, 19 Jan 2017 21:10:04 +0000, Bruce Prentice <[log in to unmask]>
> wrote:
>>As a non-American, but one who lives near enough the border to receive PBS,
> I am very distressed to hear of Mr. Trump's plans.
> Tough tootsies!
> If you're so enamored of PBS send them a big contribution.  As for me, I
> haven't watched an opera on PBS for years.  TV is rather passe, don'tcha
> know.  I'd rather not continue to support it with tax dollars.
> **********************************************
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