June 23, 2005


Public Broadcasters' Tightrope Over Funds (LORNE MANLY, 6/23/05, NY Times)

"The Brian Lehrer Show" decided to tackle a topic this week that could hardly be knottier for its radio station, devoting about an hour on Monday to the battle over a possible cut in federal funds for public broadcasters like its own station, WNYC.

About a quarter of the way through the program's coverage, Mr. Lehrer went to a break. On came a promotional spot with Laura Walker, the WNYC president and chief executive, explaining how a bill approved by the House Appropriations Committee could severely cut into the station's annual operating revenue and programming.

When he returned to the show, Mr. Lehrer seemed a bit surprised by the spot that had been broadcast. Chuckling a little, he told listeners, "It's just a coincidence it came up now, actually." Then he turned to the first of two station presidents to discuss how the financing cut could affect their operations - Ms. Walker of WNYC.

That jarring juxtaposition of news programming and self-interested promotion exemplifies the fine line that public broadcasters are walking as they mobilize to combat threats to their financing.

It's an odd notion the public radio folks have that running commercials would make them beholden to the business sector but that they can remain perfectly independent while suckling at the government teat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 23, 2005 7:56 AM

The corporate ads that follow most public broadcasting are indistinguishable from commercials, except perhaps for their uniform lack of wit or attractive women.

There is no need for 'public broadcasting' the National Endowment for the Arts or the National Endowment for the Humanities. They serve merely as full employment programs for fairies, metrosexuals and girlymen, and if anything, have a negative impact on society and culture.

Posted by: bart at June 23, 2005 8:43 AM

And, of course, they mostly just rebroadcast programs from the PABC.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 23, 2005 9:14 AM

If you don't want Republicans telling you what to do, don't take gov't money. He who pays the piper calls the tunes.

Posted by: b at June 23, 2005 10:31 AM

Damn straight b! That's why teachers getting so bent over NCLB doesn't arouse any sympathy from me. Don't want the crown telling you what to do? Don't take the crown's soveriegn! Didn't Barry Goldwater's ghostwriter lay this out 40 years ago in Conscience of a Conservative?

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 23, 2005 11:03 AM

The belief that one's perks and predelictions should be funded by the government could be viewed as just another manefestation of the boomer's refusal to grow up.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at June 23, 2005 11:29 AM

Brian Lehrer? Related to Jim?

Posted by: erp at June 23, 2005 2:26 PM


I doubt if Goldwater used a ghostwriter.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 23, 2005 3:10 PM

jim hamlen:

I believe L. Brent Bozell (the older, not the younger) wrote Conscience of a Conservative.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 23, 2005 3:37 PM


It's been too long - I had forgotten that.

Posted by: jim hamlen at June 23, 2005 3:48 PM

Goldwater was a notorious dimwit.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2005 3:51 PM

Hey, I was right about something! Shazaam! Except that I thought William F. Buckley Jr. ghostwrote it.

Posted by: Governor Breck at June 23, 2005 6:06 PM

There's a simple way to make the Times see the light, add a rider to fund a new National Public Newspaper with 100,000,000 public dollars this year to compete with them.

Posted by: Norden at June 24, 2005 11:19 PM