Cuts to KCRW? Big Bird in the clear, journalism in the dark

With the presidential campaigns well underway and the election less than a month away, Americans want to know how their money will be spent over the next four years. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced during the first presidential debate that he would stop all federal funding to public broadcasting if elected. “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? If not, I’ll get rid of it,” he said.

Big Bird death memes aside, a Romney win in November and a potential defunding of the Public Broadcasting System could have real implications for state-sponsored journalism, says the website of National Public Radio.

While Sesame Street (which makes $49.5 million annually from licensing revenue, according to the Huffington Post) is in no immediate danger, NPR could be faced with millions in cuts from its budget, according to their website.

While cuts to subsidies may not be enough to kill Big Bird, some stations gooses may be cooked.

“Elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism—especially local journalism—and eventually the loss of public radio stations,” the website says. “Particularly in rural and economically distressed communities.”

The NPR affiliate KCRW, which broadcasts from the campus of SMC, has a staff of around 60 employees, according to their website.

Programming recorded at the station like music show Morning Becomes Eclectic is syndicated on NPR affiliates across the country.

The station promotes cultural events featuring live music and community art, and also maintains an internship program offered to all colleges, according to their website.

KCRW could not be reached for comment, despite multiple requests from the Corsair.

Revenue for NPR is generated from a variety of sources, including the local, state, and federal governments. In addition to subsidies like those given through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, NPR also receives money from listener donations and philanthropic foundations.

The CPB is a non-profit organization created by the federal government, which is financed by funds appropriated from congress. For the year 2012, $445.2 million were allocated to public radio, according to the CPB’s operating budget for 2012.

Money from the government and CPB account for 16 percent of NPR’s annual revenue, their third largest source of income, according to financial statements released by NPR.

In a report published by the CPB on the 2006 fiscal year, funds appropriated from the CPB accounted for 16.3 percent of revenue for all public broadcasting and television stations.

And NPR isn’t alone in cutbacks from PBS. Programs that have received a portion of federal funding for their budget like Antiques Roadshow and Frontline could also be in jeopardy, ABC News says.

Those spared from the cuts would be flagship programs such as Sesame Street and Barney, which have marketing rights totaling $1.3 billion, according to a report by former Florida Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite.