Friday, November 12, 2010

Math, Public Broadcasting and KAXE

Recently we’ve heard a lot of talk about cutting or even “zeroing out” public broadcasting. I remember when this happened in the mid ‘90s. At the time, Newt Gingrich led congressional leaders in calling for a “glidepath to zero” for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). That plan was ultimately scrapped due to a huge outpouring of grassroots support from the listening and viewing public.

This time, the fires seem to have been fanned by NPR’s (National Public Radio) firing of Juan Williams. Yesterday we also learned that cuts to CPB were part of the proposed $200 billion in spending cuts identified by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.

So I did some math, based on the most recent public broadcasting appropriations. (This is not “per-taxpayer” ciphering—the numbers are based on “total population” and include everyone, even our kids). What I found is that even in these fiscally challenging times, public broadcasting is still a heckuva good deal.

If you are a typical taxpayer, you probably pay less for public broadcasting than you realize! On average, each Minnesotan invests just $1.76 per year—total—both federal and state—to help support our national and state public broadcasting systems.

Here are the nuts and bolts of how public support for public broadcasting breaks down for us in Minnesota:

On the federal level:

The total CPB appropriation for FY11 is $430,000,000

The CPB subtracts its own operating costs (about 11%) and then distributes what’s left (89%) to stations and program producers.

• 75% of what’s left goes to TV.
• 25% goes to radio (by that formula, $95,675,000 will go to public radio stations and programs in FY11).

The population of the US (estimated as of 11/11/10) is 310,681,000 people.

This means each American invests $1.38 to help support the public broadcasting system in its largest sense, of which 22¢ per year is for public radio.

In Minnesota:

In the State of Minnesota, the entire public broadcasting budget for 2011 is $2,015,000.

More than half of that is for public TV ($1,378,000). MPR receives $250,000/year and 11 AMPERS stations receive $387,000/year (equipment and operating combined, or $35,181/station—one AMPERS station is too small to qualify for state funding).

The population of MN (2009 estimate) is 5,266,214

Doing the math, the average citizen in Minnesota invests just 38¢ to support public broadcasting statewide.

Of that amount, 26¢ supports public TV.

For radio (AMPERS and MPR combined), it’s 12¢/person.

For AMPERS stations only (like KAXE), that investment is 7.3¢ per person per year.

Here’s what we get for our investment: The money that goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is used to help fund 1,214 independent, nonprofit TV and radio stations like KAXE across the US. The stations use their federal dollars to leverage six times that amount in programming and services, creating 17,000 jobs in the American economy.

We also get educational and entertaining programs created by trusted news and production organizations like NPR, PRI and PBS, including Car Talk, Sesame Street, Nova, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. In a Harris poll conducted in 2005, NPR and PBS were named the most trusted news sources in the United States by the general public. NPR and PBS receive most of their funding from stations. Only a tiny part of their budgets come from government sources.

In Minnesota, our long-time investment in public broadcasting helps keep stations relevant and vital. It helps Minnesota Public Radio buy critical new equipment. It supports public television stations in the Twin Cities, Appleton, Austin, Bemidji, Brainerd, Duluth and Hibbing. For AMPERS stations like KAXE, it is used for operations and infrastructure, which underpin our ability to create meaningful programming for our local communities. State funds help us employ local people, and form a basis for pulling in additional matching funds.

I hope you agree that we squeeze a lot out of your investment. Public broadcasting is a treasure that is available to everyone. Please keep this in mind as the federal and state budget year unfolds!

Maggie Montgomery, General Manager
Northern Community Radio

1 comment:

Sandy said...

Really puts things into perspective. Thanks for 'crunching the numbers' Maggie. Those of us who know the value of our local public media sources need to speak up NOW.