Should NPR Receive Government Funding?

By Megan Trent

October 22, 2010 Updated Oct 22, 2010 at 7:14 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The decision by National Public Radio to fire Juan Williams has sparked debate about public financing of non-profit media outlets like PBS and NPR.

Some local residents and Washington legislators have argued the need to take a closer look at stations that receive funding from tax-payers.

The amount of government funding varies depending on the station. For example, Fort Wayne has Northeast Indiana Public Radio, which relies on government funding for less than 10% of their over-all budget. NIPR officials say that was about $120,000 last year.

Nationally, NPR officials have stated around one-percent of their funding comes from the government.

NIPR officials say 40% of their funding comes from listener contributions, 30% from corporate partners and under-writers, and 20% from foundations and grants. That is in addition to the 10% of funding they receive from government sources.

Fort Wayne resident Joseph Hexamer says, "They're given, in essence, free money to do a good job. If they (NPR) made that decision to let him go because of his opinion on something of importance, then they're a little bit hypocritical."

Although NIPR purchases content from NPR and both are partially publicly funded, NIPR General Manager Joan Brown cautions listeners that the two are not the same. She says, "The Juan Williams issue is an NPR internal personnel issue. NPR doesn't own us and we don't influence their management. We simply partner with them in bringing great news, we think."

NIPR's annual pledge drive ends tomorrow, but Brown says she doesn't think the Juan Williams incident has affected their donations. "Right now, when people are deciding to support us or not support us, I think we are seeing things on both sides of that. There are a few people who are choosing not to support us, but we had our biggest morning ever this morning, and I believe some of that was a show of support for us as a local station."

If you would like to make to make a listener contribution, contact the NIPR office at 260-452-1185. This year's fall pledge drive will end at or before 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 23rd.

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