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Should Government Fund Public Radio?

Updated on October 30, 2010


     The policy of funding public radio recently became a news event with the firing of Juan Williams.  This article is not about this occurrence but the situation where tax dollars provide some financial support for public radio.  Public radio and public radio organizations have a responsibility to the public to provide fair, accurate and unbiased information.  Those that offer the opportunity for their employees to offer their opinion should not penalize those employees for doing so.  There are times such as the case of Juan Williams being associated with a public radio organization are placed in the position of providing inputs to news events or issues of the day.  In these situations they are not providing an opinion as part of the organization they work for but their personal opinion.

     We as individuals have rights and opinions on many topics.  There may be times that occur when opinions of individuals do not necessarily agree with the opinions of the organization with which they are associated.  When this is clearly identified those individuals should not be penalized for expressing their opinion.  There will be times when an individual expresses opinions that an organization does not necessarily agree with or endorse.  In these situations it is up to the organization to express this fact.

     Research has shown that there are approximately 10,000 commercial radio stations and over 2,500 non-commercial radio stations in the United States.  This number seems like a lot but when you think of the number of United States citizens it is not a lot.  There are many great radio stations in the United States and like any other organization there may be financial stability issues involved. 

     The point of this article is to discuss whether government should provide tax dollars in support of the public radio industry.  Clearly there may be circumstances where funding is appropriate but the conditions which warrant funding should be specifically identified if they are not already.  Government has a responsibility to the public to provide the services identified in the Constitution.  Through the years there have been many laws passed which have identified specific rolls to which the government has a responsibility.  This is great only if those rolls are not clearly expressed in the Constitution.  There are some rolls which the government is now active and it is not my place to say whether they are in agreement or not with the Constitution as it is written.  Funding of public radio may be one of these instances.

     Funding of various organizations that provide a valid service to the public may qualify for government funding.  Many times specific conditions are in place for individuals or organizations to qualify.  Before deciding to apply for government support organizations must consider whether it is needed and whether they qualify given the requirements for the funding involved.

     It is my belief that funding for public radio should continue.  There must be however the stipulation that if the rights of individuals are violated by the actions of an organization receiving the funds, the funds will be removed.   Public radio and public radio organizations as I have stated above have a right to present fair, accurate and unbiased information to the public which they serve.  When individuals are expressing their opinion on issues of the day it is there right to do so and the organization has the right to state that they do not necessarily agree with opinions expressed.  Individuals are sometimes asked their opinions about issues of the day such as the case of Juan Williams.  In these circumstances it must be made clear if it is not already perceived that the opinions are theirs and not the organization with which they are associated.  Public radio is a vital part of society in providing the services they do.  Public funding should continue if it is appropriate for the services being provided with the stipulation as identified a


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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      I appreciate your excellent article and your point of view. I respectfully disagree. I don't think the government should be in the news business. If people want NPR they can fund it. NPR is well known to slant toward the left. It is therefore unfair in my estimation for people who do not share this viewpoint to have their earnings confiscated to promote views they oppose.

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      Howard Schneider 7 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Thank you Dennis for providing a sober observation and opinion on this subject. NPR is a wonderful news organization that must be preserved and funded. It was a huge mistake to fire Juan Williams and they are paying for it. FOX news is also reaping enormous and undeserved public opinion points on this which saddens me greatly. Their fair and balanced motto is a crock while NPR normally deserves that motto. Your solutions written here are good ones that should be implemented. Unfunding NPR is a favorite conservative talking point that must be fought.