The Washington Times mangled the facts in its recent editorial on NPR (“NPR’s taxpayer-funded lobbyists,” Comment & Analysis, May 9). Here’s the real story: No federal funds have ever been used by NPR for advocacy or representation activities.
As part of our long-standing charter, NPR represents public radio stations in Washington before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. These independent, locally governed and programmed stations decide whether to become members of NPR. We support them in their efforts to raise awareness and appreciation of the critical service they provide to local audiences. This role is not new to NPR. Our mission clearly lays out three key functions that NPR fulfills: programming, representation and distribution.
“The mission of NPR is to work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public - one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.
“To accomplish our mission, we produce, acquire and distribute programming that meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression; we represent our members in matters of their mutual interest; and we provide satellite interconnection for the entire public radio system.”
Federal funding has been essential to public broadcasting’s efforts to serve the American public with noncommercial programming that informs and educates. It must be an element of our system’s future.
NPR itself is not “taxpayer-funded,” despite the rhetoric and misinformation perpetuated by some. We receive no direct federal funding. The competitive grants we apply for - on average $2 million to $3 million annually from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other federally funded organizations - must be used only for the specific projects covered by each grant. The funds are not used to support NPR’s general operations and are not used for lobbying.
The firm of Bracy Tucker Brown & Valanzano is working with us to bring more focus and prominence to the significant role of music in public radio’s mission and community service. More than 100 public radio stations have full-time music formats, and another 480 stations operate with mixed formats. According to one estimate, music accounts for about one of every three hours of public-radio listening. A loss of federal funding would significantly disrupt this service.
DANA DAVIS REHM
Senior Vice President
Communications, Marketing & External Relations