Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Save Money By Cutting Fed Subsidies for PBS

Big Bird makes millions from toy sales. Why is government subsidizing it?

SC Senator Jim DeMint penned this op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

Public Broadcasting Should Go Private
If these outfits can afford to pay lavish salaries to their heads, they don't need taxpayer help.
By Jim DeMint
Wall Street Journal
March 4, 2011

While executives at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR) are raking in massive salaries, the organizations are participating in an aggressive lobbying effort to prevent Congress from saving hundreds of millions of dollars each year by cutting their subsidies.
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PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.
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The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. 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. That's practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.
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Despite how accessible media has become to Americans over the years, funding for CPB has grown considerably. In 2001, the federal government appropriated $340 million for CPB. Last year it got $420 million. As Congress considers ways to close the $1.6 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Instead, Mr. Obama wants to increase CPB's funding to $451 million in his latest budget.

Meanwhile, highly successful, brand-name public programs like Sesame Street make millions on their own. "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. With earnings like that, Big Bird doesn't need the taxpayers to help him compete against the Nickleodeon cable channel's Dora the Explorer.

Taxpayer-subsidized broadcasting doesn't only make money from licensing and product sales. It also raises plenty of outside cash.
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Public broadcasting can pay its presidents half-million and million dollar salaries. Its children's programs are making hundreds of millions in sales. Liberal financiers are willing to write million-dollar checks to help these organizations. There's no reason taxpayers need to subsidize them anymore.
Obama talks about a shared sacrifice in cutting the federal budget and making Washington "live within its means." But somehow, when it comes to PBS and the liberal propaganda it promotes any cuts will be viewed as attacks on Big Bird and children's programming.

Imagine what would happen if conservatives in congress proposed federal funds for Fox News?

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