Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: March 1, 2011

A national survey undertaken by the bipartisan polling firms of Hart Research and American Viewpoint indicates overwhelming public opposition (69% to 27%) to proposals to eliminate government funding of public broadcasting, with voters across the political spectrum opposed to such a cut, including 83% of Democrats, 69% of independents and 56% of Republicans. More than two-thirds (68%) of voters say that congressional budget cutters should “find other places in the budget to save money.”

PBS commissioned this research to measure the organization’s performance and value as judged by the American public. Highlights of the survey results include:

• Cutting the federal budget deficit is a strong priority of the American public, but so is public broadcasting — fully eight in 10 (82%) voters say reducing the deficit should be an “absolute top priority” (42%) or a “high priority” (40%) for the country — but these voters also say that eliminating funding for public broadcasting is the wrong way to go about it.
• Even among the 42% of voters who say that reducing the deficit should be the nation’s top priority, 60% oppose eliminating funding for public broadcasting.
• Support for PBS (73% “excellent” or “good” value) ranks second only to “the country’s military defense” (81% “excellent” or “good” value), when voters were asked to rank “the value for your tax dollars” of specific government-funded programs.
• Nearly eight in 10 voters (79%) believe that PBS should receive “the same amount of government funding” (49%), or “more government funding” (30%) than it currently receives. Ninety-two percent (92%) of Democrats favor the “same amount” or “more government funding” of PBS, as do 75% of Independents, and 67% of Republicans when told that “PBS/public television stations receive about 15% of their funding from the federal government,” and that this “comes out to about one dollar per American each year.”
• More than six voters in 10 (61%) who believe deficit reduction is an important goal also support funding for public broadcasting. Sixty-one percent (61%) agreed with the statement, “Reducing the nation’s budget deficit is an important goal, but public broadcasting provides a valuable public service at a very low cost to taxpayers. There are many better ways to reduce government spending than by eliminating funding for this important priority.” Only 31% of voters agreed with the argument that “Public broadcasting may be important, but with the nation facing a huge budget deficit, we need to make difficult decisions and reduce government spending everywhere we can, including funding for PBS and NPR.”
• Six out of 10 voters (61%) believe the consequences of defunding PBS would be a “massive loss” (24%) or “significant loss for the country,” (37%) when told that eliminating public funding of the 15% of their budgets that PBS and PBS stations receive from the Federal government “could force PBS to eliminate some programming and jeopardize some PBS public television stations.”
• Seventy-two percent (72%) of voters said they would be concerned “a great deal” (56%) or “a fair amount” (16%) if PBS had to “significantly cut back on the educational shows that help children prepare for success in school.” Sixty-seven percent (67%) indicated “a great deal” (53%) of concern or “a fair amount” (14%) of concern if such cuts were to lead to the closing of “your local PBS station.”
• Concern about the possible consequences of cuts on PBS’s ability to provide educational programming for children was seen across the political spectrum, with 88% of Democrats, 71% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans expressing such concern.
• “In an era in which reducing the budget deficit is a high priority, the public is not willing to ‘cut for cutting’s sake’,” said Peter D. Hart of Hart Research. “Voters strongly oppose cuts for public broadcasting because they view it as an excellent taxpayer value and because they recognize what would be lost without PBS’ support for children’s educational advancement, as well as high quality science, history, and cultural programming. Support for PBS and public broadcasting is widespread and overwhelming, and cutting PBS’ relatively small amount of government funding is a losing political argument for proponents of such cuts.”

“The funding of PBS is not an ideological battle,” said Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint. “A majority of conservatives (53%) oppose eliminating government funding for public broadcasting. This is due in part to the value voters derive from its programming, with a majority of Republicans saying they and their family ‘value a great deal’ the educational, non-violent and family-oriented programs that PBS offers. It’s notable just how strong the support for public broadcasting is among Independents whose support often decides elections.”

  • tigersgrowl

    I never knew about that. Had I known, I would have listened to local radio because my data is capped within the first week due to all the 3G radio I listen to. This will be a great help however, I use the Kyrocera Event (don’t laugh, it was only $20 and I got a mortgage) with the Virgin Mobile service using the Sprint network. I contacted Virgin just now, we’ll have to see if they give me the run around as expected with most phone companies or not. If they do, I won’t give up there, I will consult the blogs and forums. If there is a way, I will find it.

    • Jessie

      @tigersgrowl, I also have Virgin Mobile and they use the Sprint network. I will call them also, but I would really appreciate if you post your updates.

  • Yoga Bear

    “I want my FM Radio! Unlock the FM chip in all smartphones you sell so I can get important emergency information when data networks are unavailable and reduce the amount of data I use each month.

    Thank you. I have a HTC one m7 I have looked and the phone has a FM chip and I have Verizon I have called there tech support and they told me all I need to do is find a radio app, you can’t find one that will work without the net, theses company’s just lies to get you off the phone, so I called HTC by the way Verizon told me not to do that, so me being one not to do what I’m told lol I called any ways, HTC told me that they will be updating to lollipop in a few months and then they’re going to come out with the update that send you a FM radio to your phone that they have been working on it for several months without any support from Verizon Wireless so they’ve taken it on their self to go ahead and make a program to turn on the FM chip so that it will work so that we can have free FM radio on our smartphones, we will see. I’ll give them two months if they don’t do it I’m calling back.

    • Joseph Ogidan

      I had a Nokia phone back in 2008 that had a radio. All I needed to activate it was my head phone, and it worked perfectly well.

  • jeremiah stansbury

    please its our rite we paid for the phone why cant we have fm radio it wont cost you any thing to keep the public informed

  • callthemanufacture

    you’re provider has nothing to do with this they do not make the phones so be sure to call the manufacture the provider does not have a way to unlock this so don’t blame them and give more information on fm chips besides call your provider

    • Irwin Busk

      You are very incorrect. The provider orders the phone with their preferred software load, and with certain features and applications locked. The carrier can provide an “unlock” code, but is not required to by law. many will do so, if you are near the end of your contract.

  • sm spfld ma

    Radio is not a right. I’m all for the chip being activated but come on. npr is using you to push their agenda and getting this activated. It’s a scarf tactic. We all got text messages from the weather service when the tornado was on its way to western ma. Say you did have a radio on the phone then; how many people would put the radio on? I Google the tornado then and got the info I needed. Don’t be fools: you’re bejng used by public radio cronies to get more people to listen to PUBLIC RADIO. It’s a cheap marketing initiative.

    • Mrpockets

      If you are all about activating the chip then why are you urging people not to ask for it? Sure it’s an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. For all we know, you could hold a bunch of stock in Pandora and are pushing your own agenda by trying to make people feel stupid for wanting access to something that they’ve always had. That’s what you sound like to me.

  • Floyd Durham

    I just contacted Virgin and they claimed to have no knowledge of any of this. I was told that basically it probably not real and that just because it says so on the internet it doesn’t mean anything. They don’t want people using it then they loose money for data use….Like the owner of Virgin needs more money..lol

  • Byron Edgington

    What a wonderful, warm and kind human being. Fred Rogers will always be my hero. When my daughter Amanda was four, her grandmother (my mother) died, and ‘Manda was bereft at losing her. She decided to write to her TV friend, ‘Mikkah Rogers.’ The letter went in the mail, and a month later, Amanda received a warm, understanding letter from Fred Rogers. In the letter, he wrote as he spoke on TV, a show Amanda wouldn’t miss for the world. He said the very same people who are glad sometimes are the very same people who are sad sometimes. He told my daughter how sad he was for her loss, and he signed the letter, ‘Your friend, Mister Rogers.’ Amanda still has the letter. It’s one of her cherished possessions. The world needs more people like my hero, Fred Rogers.