If you look up National Public Radio on Twitter, you will see that it is now identified as “US state-affiliated media”. Not surprisingly, officials of NPR are very unhappy about this. John Lansing, NPR president and CEO, said: “NPR stands for freedom of speech & holding the powerful accountable. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy” and continued:
We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,” a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR. Twitter and its member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide….
Full statement here.
So, where does NPR get its funding? And is it accurate for it to be labeled ‘state-affiliated media’? Here is NPR’s own page on Public Radio Finances. Included are revenues of NPR itself and revenues of its Member Stations. As far as NPR itself goes, I don’t think you can tell from the information provided how much of it comes from the government, it seems to be included in ‘contributions of cash and other assets’ or ‘other revenues’…but other sources indicate that it is less than 1% of NPR total revenues.
BUT, at least 31% of NPR revenues come from fees paid by the Member stations. And of the revenues of those member stations, 8% comes from ‘Federal appropriation via CPB’ and 5% from ‘Federal, state and local governments’. Seems to me that one has to consider those payments to the local stations as part of the government funding of ‘public radio’…in addition to the program fees that are remitted to the NPR entity, the local stations are themselves the essential component in distribution. If the government gave a trivial amount of money to McDonald’s Hamburgers….but a considerably greater amount to its franchisees…then wouldn’t we consider both numbers when evaluating the degree to which McD’s was government subsidized?
NPR says on its own website:
Federal funding is essential to public radio’s service to the American public and its continuation is critical for both stations and program producers, including NPR.
It’s been argued that NPR is obviously not ‘state-affiliated media’ because it was not supportive of the Trump administration when that administration was in office…indeed, it was the opposite of supportive To which my response is: NPR does not represent the elected government, but it represents those who it thinks should be the government. See my post about the Prince-Electors.
For reference, here is Twitter’s definition of state-affiliated media.