Public Radio Host Falsely Claims 'Paucity' of Public Funding

NPR official page says federal funding is 'essential'

November 5, 2019

National Public Radio host Joshua Johnson claimed on Tuesday that only a "paucity" of NPR's funding comes from tax dollars, despite NPR having previously stated that federal funding is "essential" for public radio.

"The plurality of funding for all NPR stations comes from members. A paucity of the funding comes from tax dollars," Johnson said on 1A, rebuking a guest who suggested that tax dollars kept NPR from being a fully crowd-funded organization.

While Johnson was quick to downplay the importance of federal funding for NPR, the organization said on its own finance page that such funding is "essential."

"Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public," NPR said (emphasis in original). "Its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR."

When asked for comment, NPR directed the Washington Free Beacon to its finances page.

The organization's finance page states that it is funded by a mix of member donations and institutional grants, which NPR called an "important part of a diverse revenue mix that includes listener support, corporate sponsorship and grants."

Most of these grants come from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). NPR stated it received $1.272 million in CPB competitive grants in fiscal year 2015 as well as $65,000 from other federal agencies. The CPB reported that it gave $1.6 million in station grants to NPR in 2015. At the time, NPR listed its total assets at $344.2 million.

According to the CPB, state and local governments provide even more funding to public radio stations than the federal government does, especially with rural public radio stations.

"State funding represented 24 percent of an average rural station’s revenue, versus 7 percent for the rest of the industry," CPB said. "Nearly a quarter of all rural grantees–54 stations–relied on state government funding for at least 25 percent of their revenue while 16 rural stations relied on state funding for at least 50 percent of their revenue."

NPR's finance page also claimed that the loss of federal funding would damage NPR stations and result in "less journalism."

"The loss of federal funding would undermine the stations' ability to pay NPR for programming, thereby weakening the institution," NPR said, adding that less than one percent of NPR's annual operating budget comes from CPB or other federal grants.

Published under: NPR , Taxes , Video