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Rep. Cantor: Schiller's Resignation Doesn't Change Minds On NPR Funding

Mar 9, 2011

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This just in from the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), in reaction to the news that NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller has stepped down:

"Our concern is not about any one person at NPR, rather it's about millions of taxpayers. NPR has admitted that they don't need taxpayer subsidies to thrive, and at a time when the government is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar that it spends, we certainly agree with them."

As Frank wrote on It's All Politics yesterday, "the congressional effort to end federal funding for NPR received new impetus Tuesday after a video surfaced of an executive who was the public-radio network's top fundraising official when he made controversial remarks about Republicans, conservatives and the Tea Party movement."

We noted earlier that:

"NPR receives about 2 percent of its budget each year from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting and federal agencies — but public radio stations that purchase NPR's programming receive more federal dollars and send some of that money back to NPR in fees. In fiscal 2008, for example, grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting accounted for about 10 percent of public radio stations' revenue. The stations got about 6 percent of their revenue from other federal, state and local government sources."

Cantor's line about NPR having "admitted that they don't need taxpayer subsidies to thrive," refers to what NPR's former chief fundraiser, Ron Schiller (no relation to Vivian Schiller) was recorded saying last month. Ron Schiller mused that NPR might be better off without such funds, but also said that many small stations could "go dark" if the money is cut off.

And speaking with reporters this morning, NPR Board Chairman Dave Edwards repeated the organization's position: that federal funding "is so absolutely critical to what we do as an industry."

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. Another of the voices on Capitol Hill who have been calling for "defunding" public broadcasting is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC). He's posted this message on his Twitter page:

"It's not about who NPR/PBS hires or fires. It's about taxpayer funding: We can't afford it and they don't need it."

Update at 3:10 p.m. ET. The White House Repeats Its Support For Funding:

The Associated Press writes that White House spokesman Jay Carney said today that the administration opposes calls to eliminate funding for NPR and the CPB, and characterized both operations as "worthwhile and important priorities."

The AP adds that Carney noted both Democratic and Republican presidents have supported such funding in the past. "There remains a need to support public broadcasting and NPR," he said.

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