Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: January 18, 2012

There is not a more efficient or entrepreneurial public broadcasting system anywhere in the world. Yet, funding for public broadcasting remains under attack. Just this past week, threats made their way into the presidential campaign discussion. We must remind our elected officials — and those who wish to be elected — that public broadcasting is non-commercial for a reason: we provide essential educational and other local public service that commercial interests will not (and should not be expected to) fund. By the way, about $1.35 of your tax dollars every year go to support public media.

These are services on which 170 million Americans regularly depend, and while the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in public broadcasting, we cannot and should not rely on private resources alone to serve these public purposes. PBS head Paula Kerger is asking viewers to oppose Mitt Romney’s latest call to end funding for public broadcasting and allow PBS stations to become ad-supported.  Of course, federal rules prevent that since we are designated as noncommercial licensees. What I always see missing in this discussion is the local impact public stations have around the country. We are filling a gap as commercial stations handle the daily news grind (and often do it very well), but do little to give a larger perspective on the issues facing a community. Commercialism of public stations will simply drive them to be like their commercial counterparts.  That cannot be good for our country.