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House Votes to Cut Off NPR’s Funding

Bill passes along party line and would slash about 2 percent of radio programmer’s funding

Last Updated: March 17, 2011 @ 4:17 PM

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that strips federal funding to National Public Radio.

The bill, which passed along party lines by a vote of 228-192.

The move comes at the same time that NPR is under fire.

Last week NPR chief executive, Vivian Schiller and fundraiser Ronald Schiller (no relation) resigned after a video surfaced in which the fundraising executive called the "Tea Party" racist and slammed the current Republican party. For good measure, Schiller said NPR would be better off without federal funding.

“NPR is widely recognized as a partisan media outlet that has long served as a platform for decidedly left-leaning programming and commentary,” House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said in a statement. “This is a highly objectionable trait for an organization that is funded by American taxpayers.“

Even as House Republicans framed the legislation as a necessary cost cutting measure, the measure directly singles out NPR. 

An NPR spokesperson said the move would cost jobs and jeopardize the ability of more rural stations to continue offering news and other programs. 

“At a time when other news organizations are cutting back and the voices of pundits are drowning out fact-based reporting and thoughtful analysis, NPR and public radio stations are delivering in-depth news and information respectfully and with civility. It would be a tragedy for America to lose this national treasure,” Joyce Slocum, Interim CEO of NPR, said in a statement. 

Republicans in congress want to restrict local public stations from using grants they receive from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to purchase radio shows from NPR.

"This legislation, which would destroy a public radio system that has served the American people well for 40 years, has been passed by the House without the benefit of a single hearing on the subject," Patrick Butler, president of the Public Media Association, said in a statement. “While it is portrayed as a deficit-reduction measure, the legislation has been preliminarily scored by the Congressional Budget Office as saving not a single penny."

A membership-based news organization, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., NPR receives about 36 percent of its annual revenue from station fees and membership dues for news and information, cultural and entertainment programming. In addition, NPR receives about 2 percent of its annual budget in the form of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The bill seeks to ban local public radio stations from using funding it receives from CPB to purchase radio programming, however is silent with respect to public television programming.