Consultant to CPB: Public broadcasting is worth billions to the public

If public broadcasting loses its federal aid, it’s “highly unlikely” that it will recover the same amounts by increasing revenues from product licensing, individual contributors or local and state governments, an economics consulting firm reported back to CPB last week. Moreover, “the nature of public broadcasting will inevitably change” if the field loses its federal assistance, according to National Economic Research Associates, a White Plains, N.Y., firm that presented conclusions of its CPB-commissioned study to the CPB Board on March 14. Steven Schwartz, v.p. of NERA, also estimated that public broadcasting has a value of $2.8 billion to $4.3 billion to the American public–far more than the $1.8 billion from all sources that are spent on it, or the $285 million that Congress appropriated for this year. The study responded to remarks by public broadcasting’s opponents on the CPB funding issue, who contend that the field could easily replace the federal aid. No easy options
Revenues from product licensing are “too small and uncertain to be relied upon,” Schwartz told the CPB Board.