"The usual arguments in favor of public broadcasting focus on the facts that a) public television and radio are highly educational and b) that this government spending mainly benefits rural areas with few other media options," Plumer writes. The government doesn't actually give money to PBS or NPR, he notes; it gives it to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which parcels out the money based on a formula. A lot of it goes to TV programming, the rest goes to 581 local TV and radio stations across the U.S.
PBS would lose just 15 percent of its budget, and NPR just 2 percent if Congress eliminated the public broadcasting budget. But local stations in many rural areas might be forced to close or drastically cut back their programming because more than 50 percent of their funding comes from the government. Plumer says that would be bad for children in rural areas who have only three options for educational programming: Nick Jr., Disney Jr. and PBS. "For families that can't afford cable, PBS is the only option," Plumer wrote. "The big worry is that an end to government funding would leave pockets of the country without public radio and TV, replaced by commercial stations that are less affordable, more saturated with advertising, and less educational." (Read more)