PBS-commissioned survey finds 73 percent of voters oppose eliminating federal funding for public TV

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Though the electorate is divided, both Republicans and Democrats polled in a new survey said they support federal funding for public television.

The survey of 1,001 registered voters, conducted Jan. 4–8, found that 73 percent of those surveyed, said they opposed the elimination of federal funding for public TV. Eighty-three percent of Democrats did not want funding cuts, along with 82 percent of independents and 62 percent of Republicans.

Forty-four percent of all respondents “strongly” opposed elimination of funding. Support for federal funds spanned all regions of the country, with most respondents citing public TV’s educational mission as its most important value.

“Voters see public television as a good value proposition for the American taxpayer, and express high levels of concern about the consequences should federal funding for public television be eliminated,” PBS said in a press release.

The survey was commissioned by PBS and conducted by a Democratic polling team from Hart Research Associates and a Republican team from research firm American Viewpoint. “Our survey finds that while the country may be deeply divided on many issues, the importance of federal funding for public television is not one of them,” the companies said in a memo.

Seventy percent of Trump voters and 93 percent of Clinton voters said they want Congress to find other ways to trim federal spending. Among voters in states that flipped from blue to red in the election, 76 percent said funding should not be eliminated.

Among other findings:

  • Seventy-six percent of voters want funding maintained at current levels or increased, including 87 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of independents and 65 percent of Republicans.
  • Sixty-nine percent of voters said they believed eliminating federal funding for public TV would cause significant losses for their community. Sixty percent of voters said it would be a significant loss for their family.
  • Eighty-four percent of the respondents — including 92 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents and 77 percent of Republicans — said they were concerned about the possible elimination of public-safety communication services, including severe weather advisories and Amber Alerts. They also shared concerns about the loss of educational content and resources.

Concern about federal funding for public broadcasting grew last month after an anonymously sourced report in the newspaper The Hill reported that President Trump was considering eliminating funding for CPB.

  • altfactor@hotmail.com

    In some states, public radio and TV stations are owned by, or receive funding from, states.

    And in some of those cases, state funding is also at risk.

  • Paul Cook

    7. Now let me give you a little more information: public broadcasting receives about fifteen percent of its funding from the federal government.

    I’m calling BS. http://www.cpb.org/files/reports/revenue/2015PublicBroadcastingRevenue.pdf

    When running a push poll, it’s important not to use bogus numbers. Ironically here is NPR blasting biased polls. http://www.npr.org/2017/02/17/515791540/the-trump-media-survey-is-phenomenally-biased-it-also-does-its-job-well

    • Why are you “calling BS”? As far as I can tell, the 15 percent number is accurate, based on the first page of the document you link to. In FY2015, CPB support accounted for 14.6 percent of total revenue; federal grants and contracts for 1.2 percent, adding up to 15.8 percent.

      • Paul Cook

        Accurate for “public broadcasting”. However the survey is about PBS and their number is significantly higher at 20% and therefore very inaccurate. I guess if you’re using a push poll you would choose whatever number makes your cause look better.

        • It’s clear from the question you referred to that at least some of the survey was not “about PBS” in particular, even if it was commissioned by them.

          • Paul Cook

            Huh? Are we looking at the same survey? Each any every question had “public television” in the question except #7 on funding and #15 on spectrum auction. It’s clearly about PBS. They didn’t want the people to be exposed to the 20% funding number so they nefariously pulled a fast one. I’m calling BS.

          • Where are you getting this 20 percent number from?

          • Paul Cook

            From the CPB data I linked to. Table 2. PT= 18.3% from CPB and 1.7% from federal grants adding up to 20%. Double checking that; towards the bottom “Non-Federal” = 79.9%

            You are looking at “public broadcasting” revenue and I’m looking at “public TELEVISION” revenue, which is what the survey clearly was about.

          • Ah ok. Well, PBS and public television are not the same thing.

          • Mark Pugnar

            Do you understand why this answer doesn’t go over well with the public?

            It’s almost as if public media is purposefully structured to obfuscate and obscure its funding. I’ve seen some estimates that 40-50% of public media income is from various governments. The structure allows the various organizations to claim 3% funding.

            I would like a CFO to explain how a 3% cut in revenue affects a large organization. Could this cut be absorbed by simply using less copy paper, or would there have to be massive layoffs?

          • Paul Cook

            NPR/PBS/CPB would put an Enron accountant to shame. Interlocking groups that co-brand themselves as a single brand when it helps them, then claim they are separate, then channel funds and in essence “wash” the money so you can’t tell where it’s from… Add in a compliant press that doesn’t demand transparency.

            (As to your question of what % of revenue is from various governments, note deeper down on the CPB pages linked, it shows tax based revenue as 35% of public media)

          • dccajun

            Paul, I’m retired from the broadcasting business, a portion of which I spent at two public radio+television stations. I’m trying to understand your underlying point. Would you lay out what you’re saying?

          • Brad Deltan

            “I’m a troll, please keep feeding me.”

          • dccajun

            Especially when talking about percentages, numbers will vary depending on the individual public radio or television station’s structure. Some are State supported and receive significant government money from their States, others are stand-alone community stations set us as independent non-profit organizations.

          • Brad Deltan

            I’d like to see any CFO of any large organization give a straight answer to a question like that. I don’t see why the public feels it has this magical ability to demand answers (that often don’t exist) from public media that it cannot from almost any other company.

            But to address your point: you are 100% correct. Public Media *is* purposefully structured to be this way. Not because it’s not transparent (everything’s in the goddamn 990’s dude, quit whining) but because it makes it difficult for those with a political agenda to impact the funding.

            So next time anyone says public media should be more transparent what they’re really saying is “I don’t like what they’re broadcasting so it should be easier to de-fund public media.”

  • Very interesting. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8b74555e9f76252d8adac785c0dec5a0e94d14074260a2fca3725ed54eb10a53.jpg And @hari was co-anchorin’ the PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff. Video capture courtesy of WETA. #PBSNEWS