The United States has one of the lowest funded public media systems in the developed world.
The federal government allots only $1.43 per person each year to maintain the system, compared to more than 70 times that amount spent per citizen by the United Kingdom or over 80 times that amount in Denmark.
The Public Broadcasting Act was passed over four decades ago. It led to the creation of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, and NPR. But today, only 20 percent of the operation of public media is actually underwritten by the federal government through the CPB, forcing public media outlets to increasingly rely on corporate underwriters for support.
To make matters worse, the 20 percent of funds that come from the federal government are controlled by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB is run by political appointees who have abused their position to inject partisan politics into grantmaking.
Famously, during the Bush administration a friend of Karl Rove chaired the CPB. Kenneth Tomlinson was eventually fired from his position, but not before filling the organization's ranks with rightwing operatives and hiring a former RNC head as CEO.
Now more than ever, we need a vibrant public media. Corporate media fails to produce the truth-telling journalism we need to help citizens and politicians make decisions crucial to the safeguarding of our democracy.
Lapdog corporate journalism was a major factor in the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was justified by reports of what we now know to be nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. FOX News has succeeded in de-educating the public about the science behind the threat of climate change. On every front, propaganda carries the day and endangers the existence of an informed citizenry that is the foundation of a functional democracy.
We need to save our public media system. Tell Congress to fully fund a public media system that is free from political interference.