23 June 2005

TOTN on CPB funding

Reviewing yesterday's discussion on Talk of the Nation covering issues surrounding government funding and public broadcasting. The guests were the editor of Reason magazine, Nick Gillespie, and Michael McCauley, associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine. A few points:

  • NG: There is a lot of money being given to organizations that support the arts. This may be so, ignoring even the vague numbers he provides to support the assertion, but this skirts the issue of whether public charity could support or create an equivalent offering such as NPR programming. This is an example of the Libertarian ideal that charity--that is, private self-organization--can solve many social ills or deficiencies.
  • MM pointed out that funding cuts would affect small, rural areas disproportionately.
  • A caller pointed out that public broadcasting costs < $2 per person per year. How can we complain about cost and funding for a system that costs so little and provides such a service to the public?
  • The argument was brought up that 19% of households do not have the cable or satellite (or Internet) access that would expose them to commercial educational broadcasting.
  • NG: that's moronic ... Clifford [the Big Red Dog] existed before PBS. He existed in stuffed animals and books and games and videos that were available for purchasing. That's not the same as what public broadcasting offers. If NG is attempting to argue the pre-existence of the service as value, isn't he suggesting that the service as public broadcasting offers it is valueable? He also derided the idea that we have to supplement babysitting and suggested that something better can be done with our $2. A disproportionate amount of the discussion, on both sides, centered on childrens' programming. What about Frontline or Nova?
  • NG: If everybody owns something, nobody owns something. Bringing up the specter of socialism? By that comparison, if this land is yours and mine, it's really nobody's. His approach is a simplification for absolutists. Is there no room for compromise and middle ground that satisfies most people to some degree? Be reasonable.
  • A caller pointed out that commercial broadcasters get government subsidies and that the broadcast spectrum is considered a public asset. NG disagreed strongly with this remark (there's no such thing as public airwave). This is a complex question. Is the spectrum like land? I need to read about the Federal Radio Commission [Wikipedia], the Federal Communications Commission, and perhaps this Libertarian article on the broadcast spectrum.
[ posted by sstrader on 23 June 2005 at 11:27:16 AM in Culture & Society ]