National Public Radio

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National Public Radio (NPR) is a nonprofit corporation, created in 1970 by the quasi-governmental Corporation for Public Broadcasting but itself a private firm, which provides national news programming to public radio stations and conducts technology research and development. Approximately 250 stations receive its radio content, as well as a growing number receiving online media content.

Programming

Since 1971, NPR and its journalists and programs have won hundreds of awards including 30 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, 53 George Foster Peabody Awards, 37 awards from the White House News Photographers Association, 17 Webby Awards (which includes 4 Webby "Peoples' Voice" awards) and 19 awards from the Overseas Press Club of America..." Its newsmagazines, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, ranked #3 and #4 in the overall nationwide radio ratings. [1]

Technology

In its research and development programs, it is strongly involved with satellite services. It operates the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS), and has developed digital multicasting alternatives to analog broadcasting.

Politics

While it is officially politically neutral, it is often accused of liberal bias, especially by American conservatives. Several controversies recently have intensified this discussion, including accepting a large donation from George Soros' Open Society Foundation to hire station-level reporters for the "Impact of Government" program, and he firing of news analyst Juan Williams for comments he made on Fox News.

Part of the challenge comes from its perceived subsidized competition with right-wing political opinion broadcasting.

Impact of Government project

The Open Society Foundation grant, of $1.8 million, is intended to finance the addition of two state government reporters at 50 radio stations. "Impact of Government...[will] better inform the public about the impact that the actions of state governments has on citizens and communities. The new initiative, which begins its pilot phase in March 2011..."[2]

Issue reporting

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) is especially hostile to National Public Radio (NPR), which it has called "National Palestine Radio"; it does not simply publish but has organized demonstrations outside NPR stations in 33 cities. [3]

Juan Williams

For more information, see: Juan Williams.


Financials

NPR is not solely government funded, but receives contributions and also is paid for services by client stations. While there are annual variations, approximately 6% of their funding from federal, state and local sources. It is largely self-supporting from fees for their products.[4] Nevertheless, there are also ways in which NPR is indirectly tax supported. While the direct CPB contribution is about 2 percent, and the largest part of revenues "comes from program fees and station dues paid by member stations that broadcast NPR programs." On average, those program fees and dues account for about 41 percent of NPR's revenues, the stations often receive CPB funding, as well as other state and local subsidies.
According to NPR, public radio stations collect another 5.8 percent of their revenues from federal, state, and local government. Universities, many publicly supported, chip in another 13.6 percent. That means the public contribution to the average public radio station's budget—if it's affiliated with a public university—could be as high as 29 percent. It's impossible to tease out from this information the exact percentage of taxpayer contribution to the NPR budget, but it's obviously higher than 2 percent.[5]
Sen. Jim DeMint (Republican-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee which oversees the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), said,
The incident with Mr. Williams shows that NPR is not concerned about providing the listening public with an honest debate of today’s issues, but rather with promoting a one-sided liberal agenda. The country is over $13 trillion in debt and Congress must find ways to start trimming the federal budget to cut spending. NPR and PBS get about 15 percent of their total budget through federal funding, so these programs should be able to find a way to stand on their own. With record debt and unemployment, there’s simply no reason to force taxpayers to subsidize a liberal programming they disagree with.
DeMint said he would inroduce legislation to stop all public funding of broadcasting. Rep. Doug Lamborn (Republican-Colorado) introduced similar legislation in the House in June 2010; that legislation has not left committee.[6]

References

  1. Overview and History, National Public Radio
  2. Anna Christopher (18 October 2010), NPR Announces "Impact of Government", National Public Radio
  3. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (2007), The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, ISBN 13978037417720, p. 173
  4. David S. Morgan (22 October 2010), Opinions Enflamed Over Juan Williams Firing, CBS News. Retrieved on 2010-10-22
  5. Jack Shafer (25 October 2010), "Kill NPR To Save It: The best way to end Republican meddling.", Slate
  6. Garance Frank-Ruta (22 October 2010), "Politerati: Republican calls to defund NPR grow", Who Runs Gov, a Washington Post publication. Retrieved on 2010-10-23