Sample Lecture- NPR

Lecture Notes:
History of Radio, TV & New Media – Week 8 – Class 1
Case Study: National Public Radio: Genesis, Funding & Controversy

Assigned Text for Class: Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States – Hilmes – Chapter 9

I. Recent Controversy
a. Juan Williams
i. Fox News – $2 million – Show clip:
b. Ron Schiller video sting
c. Vivian Schiller resignation
d. Lisa Simeone- Occupy Wall St.
e. Show clip:—npr-executive-resigns
II. Calls to “Defund” NPR
a. Boehner, Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich & DeMint
b. Palin – Open letter to Obama – “At a time when our country is dangerously in debt and looking for areas of federal spending to cut, I think we’ve found a good candidate for defunding.”
c. This is not the first time:
i. 1972- Nixon vetoes funding to the CPB
ii. 1980- Reagan tries to phase out federal support & “reinforce marketplace ideology in the public sector.”
iii. 1994- Gingrich proposes a bill to eliminate CPB’s statutory authority – Larry Pressler called for privatization
d. So, what is the history of this controversial organization?
III. Early Educational Broadcast Movement
a. 1900- Scientists University of Wisconsin experiment with wireless telegraphy
i. 1914- They secure a license – Experimental radio station: 9XM
ii. 1916- The school takes control of the license
iii. 1917- First voice and music broadcast
iv. Station would later become Wisconsin Public Radio flagship WHA-AM
v. By the 1920s, more than 200 licenses issued for educational stations
vi. Late 20s- FRC enacts stricter requirements
1. Effort to decrease unregulated broadcasting
2. This, plus Great Depression reduces number of educational stations on AM to 43 by 1933
IV. Ford Foundation & ERTC
a. Foundation established initially established with $25,000 gift from Edsel Ford
b. 1951- Foundation establishes a subsidiary: Educational Television and Radio Center
c. 1960- ERTC begins to explore feasibility of east coast network in collaboration with WGBH-Boston
d. Educational Radio Network debuts in 1961, with six stations
i. Experimentally funded by the Ford Foundation through 1963
ii. 1963- FF increases funding for ERTC from $2 to $6 million – but the money is set aside exclusively for TV
V. NAEB Conference
a. 1964- First national Conference on the Long-Range Financing of ETV called by the NAEB
i. Sponsored largely by a grant from the U.S. Office of Education
b. Ralph Lowell – Banker and cofounder of WGBH – calls for a presidential commission to study financial status and future funding of public broadcasting
c. President Johnson turns him down- suggests a private committee
i. Johnson amassed much of his wealth through the operation of a commercial TV station in Texas
VI. The Carnegie Foundation
a. 1965- Lowell approaches the Carnegie Foundation – Carnegie Commission on Educational Television is formed
i. 1967 Report: Public Television: A Plan for Action
ii. Report calls for:
1. Improved facilities & funding
2. Congress to establish a non-profit corp for funding
3. Long range funding via a tax on sale of consumer electronics
4. Presidential appointment of one half of the corp board of the organization
iii. Johnson sent the bill to Congress
1. Came back with the following changes:
a. No excise tax
b. President appoints all 15 members – No more than eight from one party
c. Public Broadcasters barred from editorializing and endorsing political candidates
b. Bill signed into law on November 7th, 1967
i. Radio was almost left out entirely
VII. After the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
a. The CPB is established
b. Within 3 years NPR (as we know it today) was established
i. First year CPB funding for public radio = $260,000
c. NPR planning board convenes in San Diego in January 1970.
i. William Siemering writes NPR Purposes – Read quote: National Public Radio will serve the individual: it will promote personal growth; it will regard the individual differences among men with respect and joy rather than derision and hate; it will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied rather than vacuous and banal; it will encourage a sense of active participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.
ii. There, idea for first program was hatched: All Things Considered
d. NPR first airs on February 26, 1971 – Live coverage of Senate hearings on Vietnam
i. 30 employees
ii. 90 member stations
e. Today:
i. Second largest radio group in the U.S. (behind Clear Channel)
ii. More than 300 employees in news staff alone
iii. Programs broadcast on 910 stations
iv. Heard by 27 million people every week
VIII. NPR Funding
a. NPR says, “We receive no direct federal funding for operations.” – So why is everyone so upset? How does NPR funding work?
b. Show image: How Federal Funding Flows to NPR –

Image 1- How Money Flows to NPR

c. The CPB derives 99% of its funding from U.S. Federal tax based appropriations
i. These are allocated to “local member stations”
1. On average, about a quarter of member station funding comes from tax based sources (with only 10% coming from the CPB)- Show image:

Image 2 - Member Station Revenue

2. These stations then pay Programming fees, membership dues, and distribution service charges that make up about half of NPR’s overall revenue: Show image:

Image 3 - NPR Overall Revenue

3. The CPB provides about 10% of the revenue for the stations that provide 49% of NPR’s revenue

IX. Summary/Points to Stress
a. NPR and the CPB have their origins in the educational broadcast movement
b. Public broadcasting would not exist today without the largesse of private corporations and foundations
c. The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 allowed for the set up of the CPB
i. If the PBA of 67 was passed as originally written, we would have a system similar to BBC – excise tax on electronics
d. CPB funded NPR
e. Ultimately, a combo of private and government funding that allowed for NPR development
f. Recap of how NPR is funded – Private & Taxpayer Based Revenues

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