A group of public broadcasters proposed Tuesday that their partial government financing, an arrangement under attack by congressional Republicans, be replaced by a trust fund supported by fees paid by commercial broadcasters and telecommunications companies.
Calling the proposal “the road to self-sufficiency,” Delano Lewis, president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio, estimated that a fund of $3 billion would allow eventual elimination of federal financing.
Lewis spoke at a news conference here along with other advocates of the idea, who said government outlays for public broadcasting could end as early as 2000 if the fund was created.
The trust fund would be financed through various fees paid by the public broadcasters’ commercial counterparts: transfer fees on the sale of broadcast licenses, a percentage from broadcast-spectrum auctions and sums that commercial broadcasters would be required to pay in return for being freed of certain public service obligations like the televising of children’s programming.
The proposal, which as yet lacks many details, is being advanced by National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting Service, Public Radio International and America’s Public Television Stations, a nonprofit lobbying organization that supports public broadcasting.