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PBS’s Billion Dollar Budget

In this month’s edition of 15 Bytes, Edward Reichel pointed to the current political debates about federal funding for the arts and public broadcasting as one reason for his examination of the importance of classical music:

“With Congress thinking about eliminating funding and doing away with the National Endowment for the Arts, PBS and NPR, this is a good time to take a long hard look at classical music and try to put it in some sort of perspective and see if music written in the 18th or 19th centuries has any relevance to our century.”

This funding issue has been on the minds of many in the arts community, especially those who rely on public broadcasting to provide a discussion on various aspects of the arts. Which is why we thought the spate of articles regarding a recent CNN poll might be of interest to our readers. Talking Point Memo was apparently the first blog to report on the poll, which revealed that the median guess of what percentage of the federal budget goes to public broadcasting was 5%. That would equal $178 billion. Salon had a good time suggesting how such a weighty budget might be spent. The actual budget for public broadcasting is $420 million (one one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget, or about $1.50 per capita). Save the News, where you can find a copy of the poll, points out that despite this gross overestimate of how much federal money is going to public broadcasting, the poll also reveals that 53% of Americans said the funding should stay the same or increase.


Of course, 15 Bytes has its own funding issues. We don’t get any percent of the federal budget. Most of our annual budget (less than the salary of one individual) comes from readers like you. We will be launching our Spring Fundraiser later this week. You can help us get off to a good start by making a donation here.

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