Why would or wouldn't a state legislature support public radio?
April 8, 2016 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Some states provide zero funding to their public radio stations (either directly or via state education funds like, to colleges) while others give a lot (last year, Georgia gave public radio almost 15-million dollars). Who decides, the legislature or the voters, whether or not to support public radio in a state?
posted by CollectiveMind to Law & Government (4 answers total)
Who decides, the legislature or the voters, whether or not to support public radio in a state?

I am not aware of any state that allows voters to determine if the state funds NPR (or any public broadcasting, for that matter). State funding is done by state legislatures. However, colleges have some say in whether or not their funding goes to NPR (via school radio stations) - but even that would not be voter-decided.

Why would or wouldn't a state legislature support public radio?

Liberals like public radio.
Conservatives don't.
That should answer your question.
posted by saeculorum at 10:12 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everyone thinks they're centrist, no matter what their politics or how extreme from anyone else's point of view. And if they find a source of information that is more-or-less aligned with their point of view, then they think that source is unbiased, balanced, and fair.

NPR and PBS (in particular) and public broadcasting (in general) tends to be very congruent to liberal points of view. It wasn't always like that; PBS broadcast "Firing Line" for years, for example. But these days you have to search really hard to find anything like that.

So for liberals, NPR and PBS are fair, unbiased, and balanced. For conservatives, NPR and PBS are propaganda outlets for leftist political points of view and thus shouldn't be supported with tax money. And depending on which point of view dominates the legislature of any particular state, NPR will or won't get tax money in that state.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:54 PM on April 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: In contrast with both of the previous posts, the OP notes that Georgia Public Broadcasting is very well supported by the legislature, who are otherwise notorious for supporting only extreme right wing issues to the point of getting nothing done except passing bills about refusing to sell people wedding cakes and carrying guns everywhere.

One thing I've noticed about GPB is that it really works hard to serve all parts of the state, including rural parts that otherwise may not really have access to decent news or kid friendly television for free. There are plenty of parts of middle and south Georgia that don't have reliable access to broadcast television or broadband internet, and cell service is spotty, too, and so GPB radio and TV may be more important there than other places.

GPB also do a really good job of covering local and state issues, and yes I do think that they do so in an unbiased way. I have heard long interviews with Gov Deal where he was allowed to say all kinds of things that went pretty unchallenged, and then later interviews with prominent Democrats like Vincent Fort or John Lewis that were the same.

I don't actually know why our legislature continues to support public broadcasting. These are just my best guesses. But I am glad they do.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:50 AM on April 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: saeculorum, the latest breakdown from a couple different studies show that the political leanings of NPR listeners are about 31% for liberals, 27% for conservatives and 33% for independents. I was surprised that so many on the right listen to NPR. As to why they listen, I don't know and the research didn't say.
posted by CollectiveMind at 5:20 PM on April 9, 2016

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