At first glance, the salaries at Corporation for Public Broadcasting seem quite high. I was shocked at first.
I mean really! That's outrageous. I demand a full accounting of where my portion ($1.47 per year) of that $440 million is going!
For perspective, here is was some other countries spend on Public Broadcasting:
[the U.S. subsidy] amounts to roughly .012 percent of the $3.8 trillion federal budget – or about $1.35 per person per year.
(Some global perspective: elsewhere in the world, Canada spends $22.48 per citizen, Japan $58.86 per citizen, the United Kingdom $80.36 per citizen, and Denmark, $101 per citizen.)
But, being the son of an investor/accountant, I started thinking about what the return on investment (ROI) really is for our Public Broadcasting investment.
After all, I grew up watching Sesame Street and I remember my Dad watching The Newshour and Louis Rukeyser's WALL STREET WEEK and the Business Hour.
I remember many Frontline documentaries being used in my High School and University classes.
Charlie Rose had a few noteworthy interviews that gave me thoughtful dialog from world leaders and artists.
And here are some facts from the Wikipedia page on the CPB:
1) a non-profit American public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States
2) PBS is the most prominent provider of television programs to U.S. public television stations, distributing series such as PBS NewsHour, Masterpiece, and Frontline.
3) Since the mid-2000s, Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as America's most-trusted national institution.
PBS Primetime Programming (The ones in bold are shows I benefited from watching regularly)
- Fine arts (Great Performances)
- Drama (Masterpiece, Downton Abbey)
- Science (Nova, Nature)
- History (American Experience, American Masters, History Detectives, Antiques Roadshow)
- Music (Austin City Limits)
- Public affairs (Frontline, PBS NewsHour, Washington Week)
- Independent film (P.O.V., Independent Lens)
- Home Improvement (This Old House)
- Interviews (Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley)
Personally, I think that any one of the shows above would be worth my $1.47 per year share of the subsidy.
But let's do some quick and dirty calculations just for fun.
I called up my parents and tried to figure out how many hours of PBS programming we watched as kids.
A conservative estimate of 5 hours a week came up for 5 years of our childhood. We were 3 years apart so that's 8 years of "free" educational "pseudo babysitting". (Come on parents.... Who hasn't used the TV as a baby sitter!)
My parents said they might have donated $400 directly to PBS during our Sesame Street years.
Let's say they paid $1.47 per year times 2 parents for the entire 42 years of CPB's existence. That would be an additional $124 dollars. If my brother and I each paid $1.47 per year for the 20 years we have been working that would be another $58.80.
So our family of 4 can be said to have invested almost $600 toward this endeavor.
If Sesame Street was watched for 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, for 8 years in our household, that would be over 2000 hours of free "educational babysitting"..
This comes out to 30 cents an hour for "educational babysitting". Sounds like a deal to me!
In 40 seasons, Sesame Street has featured over 1,000 characters!
That calculation does not even include all the beneficial shows which I now watch online.
I watch Charlie Rose for free on the internet.
I have an NPR app on my smartphone which lets me listed to hundreds of great shows (podcasts) from public radio and TV stations all over the country as I jog or drive in my car.
All commercial free and uninfluenced by sponsors!
Big Bird was an interesting choice for Romney to pick a battle over.
We all know who Big Bird is because we all either watched Sesame Street as a kid or thought of him as an educational babysitter to give the parents some free time.
Will most parents think this subsidy is a good example of government waste?
Will we see crying kids with t-shirts reading "Don't let Romney kill Big Bird!"
"A March 2011 poll shows that more than two-thirds of the public opposes eliminating government funding for public broadcasting. A more recent poll indicates that 55 percent of voters oppose such cuts to public television."
To conclude: I say,
PUBLIC BROADCASTING SUBSIDIES OFFER AMAZING RETURN ON INVESTMENT!
While we all like lower taxes and more services, I think the majority of people think Public Broadcasting is worth it and our government spending problems should be solved in other areas.
I hope Romney can come up with some better examples of wasteful government spending.
(See the email that prompted this below)
MORE OPINIONS ON BIG BIRD:
"Some liberals say PBS subsidies are investments in education, which is a reasonable argument. But it’s odd how silent those liberals—and Obama—have been about the president’s larger investments in education, tens of billions of dollars in emergency aid that prevented hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs during the Great Recession, extra help for Head Start and the most troubled schools, massive tuition assistance for low-income students. Republicans marched in lockstep against all of those efforts. Isn’t that a bigger deal than Big Bird?"
Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2012/10/10/nment/#ixzz29Ujn8sxw
On Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 7:30 AM, Jim forwarded this message:
You and I contribute 442 million as taxpayers to PBS, look at the salaries of the employee/managers below...personally, we will never send them contributions any more.....
We could cut the deficit by 1/2 billion if we stop that federal budget expense item
In the debate last week there was a mention of PBS and their removal from the "public dole" by the governor ...here is an article with a few "facts" about PBS and the "Big Bird Folks" you might find interesting:
Sesame Street Is the 1 Percent
By Katrina Trinko
The President has railed against the “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street” and the wealthy,
He has been an eager defender of Big Bird and public broadcasting this week
But it turns out that many of those in Big Bird are actually members of the 1 percent themselves
(anyone with a total income of $343,927 or more as of 2009), based on their salaries.
At Corporation for Public Broadcasting, according to the CPB’s 2011 tax forms:
Patricia De Stacy Harrison, president and CEO $361,895
At PBS, according to 2011 tax forms:
Paula Kerger, president and CEO $669,260
Michael Jones, chief operating officer $477,296
Barbara Landes, chief financial officer, treasurer, and senior vice president $402,355
Katherine Lauderdale, senior vice president and general counsel, $381,855.
At Sesame Workshop, according to 2011 tax forms:
Gary Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop until October 2011, $988,456
H. Melvin Ming, current president and CEO, $584,572
Lewis Bernstein $406,387
Terry Fitzpatrick $439,741
Myung Kang-Huneke $389,005
Sherrie Westin $463,892
Susan Kolar $401,425
Miranda Barry $397,175
Maura Regan $379,733
Joseph Mazzarino $556,165
Caralynn Sandorf $354,476
Anita Stewart $455,369
And while the actor who plays Big Bird (Carroll Spinney) doesn’t have a salary that puts him in the 1 percent, he’s not far off: Spinney makes $314,072.
And who’s funding this? Well, in part, taxpayers:the federal government gave the CPB a grant of $444.1 million in 2012.