The Hill reports House Democrats “upped the pressure on President Obama to stand firm on continued funding for National Public Radio with a unanimous show of support for the broadcaster last week.” Without “even a nudge from party leaders, all 185 voting Democrats rejected a Republican bill Thursday that would eliminate NPR’s federal cash. The bill passed the House 228-192.”
I am not sure what the argument in favor of keeping these subsidies alive is at this point but it’s not that the station can’t sustain itself without them. Writing for the Wall Street journal, NPR anchorman Steve Inskeep explained:
The facts show that NPR attracts a politically diverse audience of 33.7 million weekly listeners to its member stations on-air.
This is great. Now, this success means that the product NPR is selling is in demand. As George Mason University’s Don Boudreaux writes over at Cafe Hayek:
So I trust that, given their successful formula for pleasing listeners and winning expansive market share, Mr. Inskeep and his NPR colleagues no longer require further subsidies from taxpayers. All things considered, products that are genuinely valued by consumers (intensely enough to justify the costs of producing these products) survive in competitive, unsubsidized markets. Suppliers of these products do not need to receive corporate welfare.
Inskeep concludes his piece by saying:
NPR’s audience keeps expanding because Americans want more than toxic political attacks. They want news. Think again of my colleagues in Libya, going forward to bear witness amid exploding shells. Is that liberal or conservative? Maybe it’s neither. It’s an honest and honorable effort to keep Americans informed.
He is correct that whether NPR is liberal or conservative isn’t at the heart of the problem. The problem rather is that there is no reason for taxpayers to be subsidizing any media outlet, especially in an era when we have hundreds of cable TV channels and millions of radio stations.