The Constitution does not give Congress the power to create media companies, and we should heed the Founders’ wisdom on this matter. In fact, consistent with that wisdom, before the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created, nonprofit, noncommercial media stations enjoyed a vibrant existence, remaining free to criticize current policies and exhibit whatever bias they wished. Yet today the taxpayer contribution to public broadcasting, although relatively small, clearly influences the decisions of public broadcasting officials.
In fact, public broadcasting suffers the main downside of public funding—political influence and control—yet enjoys little of the upside—a significant taxpayer contribution that would relieve it of the need to seek corporate underwriting and listener donations. But the limited taxpayer funding also shows that defunding can be relatively painless. Public broadcasting not only can survive on its own, it can thrive—and be free.