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Public Service Media

Written by Dick Pryor on Friday January 14, 2011

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Pictured above, left to right:  Host Dick Pryor, Kelly Burley, Kurt Gwartney and John McCarroll.

There has been a lot of talk in the last few months about public broadcasting.  NPR's dismissal of newsman Juan Williams for remarks he made while serving as a commentator on Fox News stirred the pot and crtitics seized upon the opportunity to call for reductions or elimination of funding for public broadcasting.  Public television and radio stations receive about $460 million in federal appropriation each year through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  CPB provides funding to stations that air content from NPR and to public television stations that provide PBS programming.  The rest of the money needed to operate stations across the nation comes from state legislatures and private sources (individual and corporate).  Although partners on some projects, NPR and PBS are separate entities.

Ironically, the calls by some in Congress for defunding CPB come at a time when public broadcasters, providing public service media content over the air, on-line, and mobile, are increasing their local content offerings to better serve the public.  Research (Roper Poll) indicates that again in 2010 public broadcasting was chosen as the most trusted institution in America.

And, industry research indicates that the audience for public radio and television stations is growing.  More than 170,000,000 Americans (55% of the U.S. population) watch or listen to public broadcasting outlets each month for news and information and educational, science, and cultural programming. In fact, a new website has been  launched to provide more information about public media:  www.170millionamericans.org

With that as a backdrop, we discussed how public service media is perceived and how it is changing to meet the needs of the citizens who rely on it, with Kelly Burley, Director of KOSU Radio; Kurt Gwartney, News Director of KGOU Radio; and John McCarroll, Executive Director of OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

They explained how their organizations are maintaining during these difficult economic times and growing their services through collaborative efforts and public-private partnerships.  Indeed, public media is changing to meet the realities of today.  We encourage your comments. 

What do you think about public service media?  Let us know.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor


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