Approximately one in ten Americans wrongly believe PBS and its parent, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, gets about a third or even half of the entire federal budget annually. In a CNN survey taken just last year, 7% of Americans said they believed PBS gets “more than 50%” of the federal budget, and another 4% said they believed PBS gets 31%-50% of the federal budget. A whopping 40% claimed PBS gets 1% to 5% of the federal budget. Only 27% of Americans guessed correctly, answering “less that 1%.”
Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) October 4, 2012
In fact, PBS, via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, gets a mere $450 million in federal funding, which is a mere 15% of the CPB’s annual budget. On the average, that costs each American annually approximately $1.46 a year.
“Asked if the spending on PBS and NPR should change, 53 percent called for it to be increased or stay the same, while just 16 percent said it should be eliminated entirely,” the New York Times writes:
It might seem strange for anyone who knows that the federal government spends so little on PBS to begin a discussion of necessary cuts there, but perhaps Mr. Romney has calculated that the undecided voters he is chasing might be among the three-quarters of the American population that thinks the subsidy is far larger than it is.
A spokeswoman for PBS, Anne Bentley, told USA Today that the Congressional subsidy does not go to PBS or NPR, but to local stations around the United States that pay fees in exchange for broadcast rights to their programs, which are produced with donations and revenue from other sources. Ms. Bentley added that Congressional support accounts for up to 50 percent of the operating budgets for some local stations in rural areas. “They’re really in jeopardy of going dark if they don’t receive funding,” Ms. Bentley said.
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