What NPR chief’s resignation means for public broadcast funding
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: As the budget debate wages in Washington we’re likely to see more heat coming from GOP lawmakers over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is a prime funding mechanism for public radio. Today, Vivian Schiller, NPR’s president and CEO, resigned her position in the wake of comments an NPR executive made in a meeting that was secretly videotaped.
The fundraising exec told two people who were disguised as possible contributors that — among other things — he’d be glad if federal funding of public media went away. NPR is in no way affiliated with Marketplace’s owners, APM, American Public Media. But both companies do take a very limited amount of federal funding.
Steve Behrens is editor at Current, which is the newspaper that serves public media people. And he’s with us now from Washington. Good morning.
STEVE BEHRENS: Good morning.
CHIOTAKIS: So, House Republicans are pushing to de-fund the CPB — the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. What’s that going to do to a radio network such NPR or even a production company like APM?
BEHRENS: It’s going to cut into the money available for all the producers, the stations pay more than a third of NPR’s budget to buy programs from it, and if they have less money, then NPR will have less money. The same with all the other programs. Some of them are more dependent on federal money than others. The more marginal ones will go away.
CHIOTAKIS: When you say marginal, you’re talking about marginal programs or marginal stations?
BEHRENS: Both actually. The smaller stations get more of their money from the feds than the big ones. The average is around 10 or 15 percent. Little stations may get 30 percent.
CHIOTAKIS: So with Vivian Schiller now out, does it change the debate though do you think? As far as what Congress is looking at?
BEHRENS: No I don’t think so. I mean, the critics will still be able to point to the same problems. They just won’t have her to kick around any more.
CHIOTAKIS: Steve Behrens, the editor of Current, which is the newspaper of public media here in the public radio and public television system. We thank you Steve.
BEHRENS: You’re welcome.
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