Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Marketplace Has Spoken

Years ago, Congress set public radio on the path of making it in the marketplace or not making it at all. Public radio responded by better serving its then relatively small audience.

Now, more people than ever listen to public radio. More people than ever give money to public radio. More businesses than ever underwrite public radio programming. Opinion surveys show that the majority of Americans believe public radio is balanced and worthy of the federal funding it receives.

And therein lies the irony of the current debate over objectivity and balance in public radio. The marketplace has no issues with it. The marketplace has spoken loud and clear. Every opportunity the marketplace gets to vote for public radio -- with its ears, dollars, and opinions -- it votes for public radio.

That's not the answer conservative politicians expected to hear when they started public radio down this path. So in spite of their belief in the power of the marketplace, they choose to not listen to what it has to say.

If they actually did listen, conservatives would be celebrating the success of public radio. It's a great example of a public-private partnership. It's minimal federal investments, well-leveraged in local communities by local decision-makers.

But that success won't be recognized because the original intent was to harm public radio. It didn't work and so we are now witnessing "Plan B", or "Plan C", or something like that. Those who are attacking public radio can't seem to accept that most people don't buy their beef with public radio. Perhaps they would see that if they took an objective and balanced view of the situation.


Blogger Aaron Read said...

I happen to agree with you 100% on this one Mr. Sutton, but I'm also admittedly mighty far down the liberal path, myself. There's a reason I live in New England, after all. :-)

I don't know if you have the time, but I would love to see a handful of case studies to back up the claims...with a post like yours, you're essentially taking a shot across the bow of your average conservative, public radio-hater. They're going to refute it no matter what. And they're going to toss out one or two highly-distorted "facts" to bolster their rejection of your argument, and they're going to have a smug expression of superiority when they do it.

(Witness the dopes on BRIG who whine about "their tax dollars" going to pay for public radio when mega-media outlets like Clear Channel are demanding, and getting, ridiculous tax breaks from both the Bush and Clinton administrations.)

Anyways, if you have a few well-worded facts (or at least factoids) to back your argument up...their refutal will still happen, but at least it looks a lot dumber to the average Joe.


9:14 AM  
Blogger Kelsey said...

There have been quite a few studies that show that most of the public find NPR and PBS to be the most fair, unbiased and trustworthy broadcasters around.
From the February 2004 RoperASW survey:

"PBS is the most valuable service taxpayers recieve, second only to military defense."

"PBS has the most trusted news and public affairs programs. 40 percent trust PBS programs 'a great deal.' CNN was second at 33 percent."

There's a similar study of NPR, that I'm having trouble findng...Perhaps someone with a better knowledge of NPRstations can find it. If I remember correctly, however, public radio had even stronger numbers.

11:07 AM  

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