CPB director Husock takes more specific swipe at pubcasting funding

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Dru Sefton/Current

Despite a severe public chastising from his fellow CPB Board members, Howard Husock has published a second column calling for the defunding of public broadcasting.

“I’ve continued to think about what a post-subsidy system would be like, as a practical matter,” Husock told Current, “and wanted to make those thoughts public. Simple as that.”

The piece, published Thursday on the website of The Hill, describes how public broadcasting could adapt to the loss of federal dollars. “Not only will both public radio and public broadcasting continue,” he wrote, “they could even improve.”

CPB

Husock

Beyond the federal funding  provided by CPB, Husock contends, public broadcasters benefit from government largesse.  “The core elements of the system receive what amounts to an ongoing subsidy: non-profit status and, in the case of local stations, a valuable no-cost license,” he writes. If CPB is eliminated, the programs and services that are central to public broadcasting’s case for support — children’s programming and broadcast service to rural communities — could be funded in other ways. Funding for educational children’s programs could be managed by the Department of Education, “where expertise in such matters logically resides.” And rural station support could funnel through the FCC, he proposes.

“Reserving much-reduced funding for these purposes will put an end to what has made public media so controversial: grant support for programming reflecting strong political points of view — programming which government should not be in the business of supporting,” Husock writes.

Husock, VP of research and publications at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, was appointed to the CPB Board by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2013. A former producer for WGBH in Boston, his term on the board expires next year.

His previous op-ed on the website of the Washington Post in March focused mainly on how the proliferation of commercial media outlets has eclipsed the need for publicly funded programming, and the lack of ideological diversity in that content. Husock’s decision to publish the piece, as well as the opinions he expressed, drew fire from CPB Board members during their  April meeting. At the time Chair Lori Gilbert said “there’s a lot of trust to rebuild” between Husock and his fellow directors.

The CPB Board meets Monday in Washington, D.C.

  • Paul Cook

    BRAVO!

  • Dwight Bobson

    Evidently, like those at Heritage, not much thinking going on inside Husock and his tank. These right wingers never take the time to understand that it is the services that local stns. provide that represent the largest part of the diversity of programs reflecting the diversity that is America. Their minds would explode if they ever discovered the immensity of services that all of the stations produce for America. I believe they have developed their own species, Americanus Ignoranti. To quote a current hero of their ilk … SAD!

  • Brad Deltan

    So the board meets on Monday. So what? Can they “fire” Husock, or otherwise force him out of his position at CPB? If yes, that should be mentioned. If not, there’s no point in referring to it.

  • Brad Deltan

    This is a remarkably fact-free commentary by Husock. I mean that literally: go read it. At least 90% of it is just wishful thinking masquerading as a policy proposal, and the remaining 10% of facts are usually flat out wrong (it’s NPR One, not NPR1, Howard) or taken wildly out of context (the FCC is, by Congressional mandate, a self-funding agency…where are they going to get the money to subsidize children’s programming?).

    Also notice that all the other government agencies that he suggests replace CPB funding are answerable directly to the Executive Branch of government, instead of the CPB which was founded specific to prevent political meddling with the content of public broadcasting. IOW, Husock wants PBS to become Fox News.

    The dead giveaway is, as always, that Husock demands public broadcasting turn to the “free market” to find funding but never addresses the fact that non-commercial broadcasters are restricted, by federal law, from airing commercials. By law they cannot compete in the same market other broadcasts do.

    Husock doesn’t want public broadcasting to evolve and thrive. He wants to kill it, plain and simple.

  • Andrew LaPorta

    The CPB has impermissibly erected a barrier to the Community Service Grant (CSG) benefit, thus setting ridiculous requirements for Limited Power (LPFM) to meet. The Non Federal Financial Support (NFFS) and Audience Service Criteria (ASC) policy requirements are discriminatory, exclusionary and confiscatory and need to be revisited to express a more level playing field. CPB is only willing to work with those applicants already in their system, thus allowing CPB to select and offer waivers and unspecified compliance projects to those “good old boys in the “cash free” network to succeed, when they couldn’t even meet their own requirements. The well connected can limit competition by increasing the barriers….to enter the industry. The CPB and FCC are applying a different standard to CSG funding by requiring and using LPFM -LP designation in stations call letters, which is a hard underwriting sell. Also, separation using “primary status” and “secondary status” selectively, thus “rubber stamping” a guarantee incumbent protection. To add insult to injury, the CPB Board of Directors are appointed by the President. Who in their right mind believes the CPB is not political? Corporate Welfare is alive and well at the CPB….Just ask their attorneys how things are paying off for them salary wise……not the applicants trying to enter the “good old boys network free cash subsidy used not only to pay for programming from NPR, but to also pay for tower rentals, studio rentals, salaries attached to programming, etc. etc. etc. etc.