When the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 was passed, establishing funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service, the target audience was simple: the entire country. However, in reality, almost all content has been aimed at affluent baby boomers.
UO School of Journalism and Communication professor Chris Chávez, writing for the news and commentary website The Conversation, says the reason boils down to funding.
“Unlike the British Broadcasting Corporation — which citizens subsidize by paying an annual television license fee — American public media receives relatively little federal funding, denying it a stable source of income,” he said. “With federal funding in a constant state of flux, public media has come to rely on income from private sources such as pledge drives and corporate underwriting accounts.”
Chávez goes on to say in 2015, National Public Radio stations received only 14 percent of their funding from federal, state and local entities, compared to 20 percent from corporations and 37 percent from private donations.
“Only by unhitching its funding model from private interests can public media truly fulfill its mission of serving the public at large,” he said. “But this would require a federal government that’s willing to boost — rather than slash — its funds.”
For more, read “Why America’s public media can’t do its job,” the article Chávez wrote for The Conversation.
Chávez, a professor in advertising and media studies, researches the intersection of globalization, media and culture.