NPR President: Federal Funds Are Critical
March 8, 2011

National Public Radio President and CEO Vivian Schiller appeared at the National Press Club on Monday to make her case against Republican efforts to cut federal funding for public broadcasting. Schiller's visit came after two Republican senators last week introduced a bill that would defund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Schiller noted that while government grants make up only about 10 percent of NPR revenue, that money is a "critical cornerstone of public media" and it would hamper NPR's efforts to raise other funding if it was removed. She also said it would hurt listeners in rural areas who may not have access to other news sources.

"We take this very, very seriously, it would have a profound impact, we believe, on our ability… to deliver news and information," Schiller said during a question and answer session, according to the Huffington Post. "If in fact federal funding were cut… then we would be going backwards and retreating on this 44-year investment that the American people have made in this incredible institution."

In prepared remarks delivered at the National Press Club, Schiller explained the impact that a funding cut would have on rural areas.

"This money is particularly important for stations in rural areas. Their government funding is a larger share of revenue -- 30 percent, 40 percent, 50 percent or more," she stated. "These are areas where listeners may have no other access to free over-the-air news and information. Modest as it is, government funding is critical because it allows taxpayers to leverage a small investment into a very large one. It is seed money. Station managers tell me that 10 percent plays a critical role in generating the other 90 percent that makes their broadcasts possible. The fact that we have four sources of revenue -- listeners, philanthropy, corporate and government -- helps ensure that public media is not beholden to any one source of revenue. Indeed it is through this diversity of funding that we are able to maintain our journalistic independence."

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Jon Zellner
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