At least the porn industry was sort of kidding about their bailout bid. Public radio and public television — already funded with your money to the tune of some $400 million in direct federal handouts and tax deductions for contributions made by individual viewers, not to mention untold state grants and subsidies — want a big chunk of Barack Obama’s stimulus pie (a.k.a. the Generational Theft Act of 2009). And they are deadly serious.
That’s right: Government-supported NPR and PBS want even more of a bailout than they’ve lived off the last 40 years. According to Current.org, the two entities along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have petitioned Obama for $550 million in stimulus funding to help create more workers suckling on the public teat (big hat tip: Steve Bartin).
From the NPR/PBS/CPB letter to Obama, these are some of the projects they want funded:
National Public Lightpath
National Public Lightpath will extend the reach of super-high-speed connections among public media organizations, public schools, universities, government agencies, community-based organizations and centers of innovation across the United States. National Public Lightpath will create the ability to enter true real-time collaborations and provide access to a level of interconnection speed unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The impact on education, technology and innovation will be immediate; the strengthening of civic life and public engagement will be transformative.
Stimulus impact: Construction of the National Public Lightpath will create 1,800 jobs during the one-year construction phase and approximately 270 permanent jobs to manage and maintain the network. In addition, there will be significant secondary employment effects as purchases of cable and equipment move through manufacturing facilities.
Potential partners: Ford Foundation, National LambdaRail, Bay Area Video Coalition.
Innovation is fostered by access to trusted information. Highly-trusted content of enormous value is languishing on the shelves of public television and radio stations. Billions of dollars worth of content assets, largely purchased with public money, are effectively lost to educators, inventors, government officials and private citizens because they have not been indexed and stored on accessible digital media. Worse still, some of these assets are in real danger of physical loss through disintegration and obsolescence.
Stimulus impact: The work of reviewing content, selecting material of lasting historical interest, digitizing and indexing it, clearing and cataloging intellectual property rights associated with it, and building databases and retrieval system to access it, will create hundreds of jobs. The work of maintaining the Archive’s currency as content creation explodes in a web 2.0 environment will provide new and challenging careers well into the future.
Potential partners: Library of Congress, National Archives, local academic and public libraries, local and national museums
We propose an initiative that would be a preschool Teach for America, targeting over 100 economically disadvantaged communities. We will enlist and train teachers, caregivers, and childcare workers as proficient users of new-media-based educational tools for young children. Further, we will create a new service-oriented professional and paraprofessional workforce dedicated to helping young children learn to read. Moreover, we will support continuing research in the effective use of educational media materials in high poverty environments, and provide grants to stations to partner with local organizations to recruit participants, disseminate materials and hold community events.
Stimulus impact: We anticipate that we will help over 500,000 young children learn basic skills associated with reading and academic success. We will train approximately 15,000 professional and paraprofessional teachers in compensated training programs. We will create 200 station-based education positions.
Potential partners: Pre-K-Now, National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Head Start Association, local daycare centers, local educational institutions.
We propose to build infrastructure and community capacity to address community crises. For example, in St. Louis, a mortgage crisis initiative conceived of and led by local public media institution KETC has brought dozens of independent community organizations together to help families save their homes from foreclosure. With a strong broadcasting and web infrastructure in place, the station urged families in need of assistance to call the one-stop “211” hotline to access a network of community assistance
organizations assembled by the station. In addition, the station has also provided content about managing debt and financial literacy. Since this initiative began six months ago, KETC and its partners have helped 8,200 families.
We propose to extend this effort to 75 metropolitan areas around the country, targeting locations with the highest mortgage default rates. Stations may assist with other community problems as well, working with national and community-based partners to develop resources to help individuals from all walks of life deal with the consequences of the economic slowdown.
Stimulus impact: Based on our experience in St. Louis, we anticipate that public broadcasting stations and their community partners will assist 750,000 households. We will fund producers to create content that is delivered on multiple platforms and community engagement staff at stations to work with local partners, creating approximately 750 positions in all.
Potential partners: local community service organizations, counseling and call centers, and local financial organizations.
Innovation requires access to media. New digital platforms allow consumers to be active creators of knowledge and culture, while traditional broadcast platforms continue to serve large numbers of people. Unfortunately, access to the media channels and the tools and techniques that enable people to contribute their voices to our society is uneven. As public media, we have an obligation – and many opportunities – to enable and encourage all citizens to tell their story as part of America’s story.
We propose to train thousands of community-based and professional digital content creators in multimedia production, bringing new voices to public media. We will also provide start-up staffing for 30 new Native American radio stations recently authorized by the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, we will support expansion of content and services of interest to, and reflecting the experiences of, Native American, Latino and African American audiences.
We propose to help our local public media institutions create a Community Issues Initiative to support local journalism, hyper-local content and organizing and convening activities to bring local organizations together to solve problems and enhance community life.
Stimulus impact: This initiative will result in a significant expansion of local content and engagement. Several hundred positions will be created at local public media institutions; several hundred additional positions will be created outside of stations, and hundreds of content producers will have the opportunity to improve their skills.
Potential partners: Native Public Media, Independent Television Service, TV and Radio Minority Consortia, Youth Radio, Public Radio Exchange, Bay Area Video Coalition, Ford Foundation, Knight Digital Media Center, Association of Independents in Radio, Radio Arte, StoryCorps, Ford Foundation.
Support for Station Capacity
The uniquely American system of public media, which leverages the effectiveness of national networks while anchoring operations in radio and television institutions in local communities, is showing signs of stress. On one hand, stations are facing sharply declining revenues (preliminary estimates indicate potential current year losses could amount to $300 million). On the other hand, stations are also trying to meet a sudden escalation in the need for local services. A one-time investment of federal resources would help stations help communities cope with the economic crisis, protect as many as 1,000 station jobs now at risk, and assure continuity in services used daily by tens of millions of Americans.
The public radio/TV bid is one of untold numbers of applications flooding the Obama transition team in the wake of Obama’s pledge to create a “social investment fund network.”
I reported on the social investment fund network back in August. Here’s how I pegged it:
“In practice, this Barack Obama brainchild would serve as a permanent, taxpayer-backed pipeline to Democrat partisan outfits masquerading as public-interest do-gooders…Birds of a Big Government feather flock together– and look out for each other. Watch your wallet.”
The inevitable lard-up of the left-wing stimulus package is well underway.