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article imageNPR lays out its case for no cuts in federal funding

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 8, 2011 in Business
Washington - In a keynote speech at the National Press Club on Monday, NPR's president and CEO called government funding of public radio a "critical cornerstone," noting proposed government cuts to public broadcasting could have serious effects for many listeners.
As the US government continues searching for ways to control its record-setting budget deficit, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is seen as target for budget cuts, a move that could have serious repercussions for National Public Radio. Vivian Schiller, chief executive of NPR, laid out numerous reasons on Monday why cuts in government funding for public broadcasting could lead to major repercussions for many of its listeners.
Ms. Schiller said NPR’s audience has been growing over the last decade and its autumn ratings show it reached another all-time high in the top 50 markets, making its record-setting ratings streak extend to four consecutive quarters. Schiller said 34 million people listen to NPR on a weekly basis.
Schiller also said NPR is a news organization that people trust and that, according to a recent PEW report,
NPR is the ONLY national news organization to see a meaningful increase in public trust over the last decade.
NPR’s funding comes from four sources: listeners, philanthropy, corporate and government and Schiller told the Press Club it is this diversity that allows the media organization to maintain its “journalistic independence.”
Grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to NPR stations represents 10 percent of public radio support, and Schiller said: “It is not the largest share of the revenue - but it is a critical cornerstone of public media.”
If government funding for public broadcasting gets the axe, rural listeners could feel the greatest impact. According to Schiller:
This money is particularly important for stations in rural areas. Their government funding is a larger share of revenue – 30%, 40%, 50% or more. These are areas where listeners may have no other access to free over-the-air news and information.
NPR has more than 900 journalists involved with nearly 800 member stations. Its Facebook audience is larger than any other US news outlet and its twitter audience reaches more than 3 million people, according to Schiller.
One example Schiller listed in defense of public radio was a recent severe winter storm in the American Southwest, noting
This past January, a severe winter storm blanketed much of northern Arizona with as much as six feet of snow. NPR member station KUYI on the Hopi reservation lost power for 48 hours. The Flagstaff station - 120 miles away - was knocked off the air. But KUYI stayed on the air thanks to two diesel generators that were funded -- with federal dollars. Without it, nealry 100,000 people over four counties would not have had access to vital information on emergency relief efforts, weather and road conditions.
Schiller called government funding “seed money” in that it helps stations generate the additional funding required for operating.
In a question and answer session after her opening remarks, Schiller said the cuts in government funding to public broadcasting is a serious matter. “We take this very, very seriously, it would have a profound impact, we believe, on our ability ... to deliver news and information,” Huffington Post reports.
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