Public Broadcasting and the Problem of Government Influence: Towards a Legislative Solution

This article will explore the problems raised by the emergence of the federal government as a television “sponsor.” It will argue that fundamental structural reform is needed to promote the constitutional values at issue, that such reform will also promote the interests of local control sought by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, and that legislative action in furtherance of this structural solution is desirable. In this context this article will consider the proposed Public Broadcasting Financing Act of 1974 and will argue that any bill modeled on it would not eliminate the problems despite its salutary innovations. Not considered, except by implication, is the parallel national public radio structure, the use of public money for television by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare or the somewhat remote issues raised by activities of the National Endowment for the Arts.