Tara Servatius

They are beefing up their staffs in local news markets with herds of public news reporters to “take over” coverage as commercial media fails. Nationwide, this will cost $40 billion to $60 billion over a decade, they believe. Their plans, according to the FCC’s Future of Media report, are to raise this money by taxing for-profit news organizations – the ones whose reporting Schiller is supposedly trying to “save.” They want to charge “spectrum fees” of five percent of broadcast station revenues for use of the public spectrum and airwaves, which the government controls. They figure that could bring in $1.8 billion a year. A one percent tax on all electronic devices like cell phones, televisions and laptops could bring in billions more. So would a monthly fee on internet subscriptions.

While conservatives were busy arguing that NPR should be defunded in the wake of the Williams debacle, Schiller was putting the finishing touches on the national infrastructure NPR has launched to deliver this new government news product to cities across the nation. A decade ago, defunding NPR would have sufficed. To stop Schiller now, Republicans would have to defund PBS and CPB as well to have any hope of torpedoing her plans to build a nationwide news delivery system in the style of the BBC, but on steroids. Schiller imagines a national public print, television and radio news leviathan that would compete with the top five news companies in the news industry.

“We can create a national network around all of public radio that provides the kind of public service that is being not provided by other media companies that are suffering,” Schiller told Cyberjournalist.net. Never mind that her planned confiscation of their revenues will cause them more suffering and possibly send them to an early death.

Schiller calls her creation the Public Media Platform, and the left is very excited about it. It’s a digital network in partnership with all the nation’s public news providers, built to distribute their news locally, regionally and nationally. NPR has already built a state-of-the-art internal “wire” service in the style of the Associated Press to carry and distribute the news. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting funded seven multi-million dollar regional journalism centers with news teams to produce and distribute the new public news product.

Finally, NPR’s Project Argo has launched news sites at 12 NPR stations in major cities staffed with local reporters. That’s where Soros’s recent $1.8 million donation to NPR comes in. Those are start-up funds for the reporters to generate the public news product.

A May Free Press report describes NPR’s Public Media Platform as a first step in their plans for a government media takeover. The platform is in the early stages, and its purpose is to attract billions more in government funding. “We are going to strengthen and bolster our representation to Congress and to other entities that can help fund all of us,” Schiller told the NPR board in her 2009 speech about a public media takeover of news reporting.

All of this makes Schiller’s very public drop-kick of Williams far more than a hissy fit that got out of hand. It was a declaration of war against commercial media in general and Fox in particular. Who wins will be determined by what voters do at the ballot box in the coming years.

Tara Servatius

Tara Servatius is a writer and radio host from North Carolina.