Out of Control Policy Blog

Privatize NPR?

From the SD Union Trib:

Billionaire philanthropist Joan B. Kroc bequeathed more than $200 million to National Public Radio – a surprisingly large donation more than double the nonprofit network's annual budget.

"We are inspired and humbled by this magnificent gift," NPR President Kevin Klose said Thursday. Klose said it would "help secure the future of NPR."

Will this mean no more pledge drives, no more tote bags? Probably not.

"Speaking generally, Michele Norris, a co-host of 'All Things Considered,' said any cash infusion is welcome at an organization that is perpetually on tight budgets."

"What we do every day is a miracle on the order of loaves and fishes with such a small and dedicated staff."

The biblical reference seem a bit overdramatic. But hey, I suppose it's natural for someone who gets $200 million to get a little spazzy. And what every NPR critic in the world is asking now is–does this mean we can stop with the public funding and privatize NPR?

About half of NPR's revenue comes from public radio stations that pay annual dues based on the size of their audience. The balance comes primarily from private donations and corporate contributions.

The organization receives less than 1 percent of its funding directly from federal tax dollars. The federal Corporation for Public Broadcasting supplies about 15 percent of the budgets of NPR's member stations, however, which then pay some of that money to NPR.

If there is any effort to privatize NPR it should be seen as a potential benefit not just for foes who say it's slanted left, but also for NPR's biggest fans. Why not just sever all government ties once and for all? Then station managers can make NPR as lefty as they like, and they'll no longer have to deal with critics who play the "government funding" card.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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