by John Dankosky – I appreciate GOP Chairman Chris Healy’s charitable words in his response to my post yesterday about hyperbole over public broadcasting. I also truly appreciate that he’s a dues-paying member of WNPR and a regular listener. And, it’s nice that he admitted his claim that WNPR gets $3.3 million in state subsidies was false.
But, he still doesn’t have it quite right. Here’s what he wrote:
The real number is $1.987 million and it should be cut from the budget entirely. The beauty of this subsidy is the manner is which it finds its way into the hands of both entities. A myriad of state agencies – Connecticut Public Library, Commission on Fire Control, Commission on Culture and Tourism, all program money they are given to Connecticut Public Broadcasting, whose building is located on Asylum Avenue in Hartford. It all adds up, no matter how John Dankosky tries to spin it.
Once again, that $1.9 million number is for federal funding – not state – and is for both WNPR and CPTV. This has nothing to do with the “myriad of state agencies” he refers to. Agencies, like those he mentioned, do occasionally give money to CPBI to support programming, but it’s either given as part of a competitive bid, to support a specific program production, or as part of a “media buy.”
If a Connecticut state department wants to get the word out about an initiative, they will often buy advertising on a number of outlets, which can include WNPR and CPTV. (We call it “underwriting,” because there are restrictions on the length and content of such announcements on public broadcasting outlets.)
The state agencies choose to do so because they want their information to reach our smart, thoughtful, influential audience – people like Chairman Healy. That is not a subsidy, or “welfare” as he puts it. That is the state deciding to spend its marketing money in a place it thinks will get the most “bang for its buck.”
To put it another way, it’s kinda like when the last two Republican governors of Connecticut decided to use taxpayer funds to put their own faces on television spots and billboards for state agencies (sidestepping the need to purchase image-building political ads with their own campaign money).
State government has marketing dollars to spend (though, admittedly, not too many right now). Is Chairman Healy saying those taxpayer dollars should only be spent on private media, like WTIC radio? State “welfare” is okay for John Rowland, but not for Big Bird?
In the end, it doesn’t look good right now for federal funding of public broadcasting. And, although none of the state dollars we get are “subsidies,” we realize that any funds from Connecticut coffers will be tight for years to come. I take Chris Healy’s advice seriously, though. Regardless of what public money we get, public broadcasters should continue to “sell their product with passion and persistence” and hope our listeners come through with the dollars to help it survive.