New National Survey Shows 73% of Voters – Including 69% in Western Region – Oppose Eliminating Federal Government Funding for Public Broadcasting

Nationally, GOP voters oppose eliminating federal funding for public television by almost a 2-1 margin.

federal government funding for public broadcasting

LOS ANGELES, February 18, 2017 – A new national survey conducted jointly by leading Republican and Democratic researchers reveals that voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose eliminating federal funding for public television. More than 7 in 10 see public television as a good or excellent value for their tax dollars, on par with investments in highways, roads and bridges.

Across the four regions of the country, solid majorities in the Western region (69%) oppose elimination of federal funding. The support for federal funding of public television spans the electorate, cutting across age, race, party affiliation, educational attainment and community size.

The telephone survey of 1001 registered voters was conducted in early January by a bipartisan polling team from American Viewpoint and Hart Research Associates on behalf of public television.

In a joint memo released today, the pollsters write, “Our survey finds that while the country may be deeply divided on many issues, the importance of federal funding for public television is not one of them. In fact, with remarkable consistency, majorities of voters of all political stripes support federal funding for public television and do not want to see it eliminated. Voters see public television as a good value proposition for the American taxpayer, and express high levels of concern about the consequences should federal funding for public television be eliminated.”
“We are pleased to have such strong support for our work – our educational content for children and teachers, our trusted history, cultural and public affairs programming, and our community engagement efforts,” said Andrew Russell, President and CEO of PBS SoCal. “More than two-thirds of voters responded that eliminating federal funding would cause significant losses to their community. And in Southern California, where 40% of children do not have access to high quality preschool, we believe our early childhood education efforts are vital.”

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 73% of voters oppose eliminating federal funding for public television and
    GOP voters oppose it by almost a 2-1 margin (62%-32%).
  • Public television is rated as an excellent or good value for their tax dollars by 72% of voters, on par with highways, roads and bridges (73%). Among GOP voters, public television received higher taxpayer value ratings than unemployment benefits, federal aid to college students, agricultural subsidies, environmental protection, and foreign aid.
  • 3 in 4 voters want federal funding for public television increased or maintained at current levels. 66% who voted for President Trump favor increasing or maintaining federal funding for public television, as do 86% of those who voted for Hillary Clinton.
  • 83% of voters – including 70% of those who voted for President Trump and 93% of those that voted for Hillary Clinton – say they would tell their elected representatives to find other places in the budget to save money if asked their opinion about eliminating federal funding for public television. This holds true regionally in the Northeast (88%), South (80%), Midwest (82%) and West (84%). Notably, this number is even higher among voters in states that flipped from blue to red in the 2016 election, with 85% of voters wanting savings to come from somewhere other than public television.
  • More than 8 in 10 voters have a great deal or fair amount of concern that ending federal funding for public television could eliminate local stations’ public safety communications services like AMBER Alerts and severe weather warnings. Similarly, 76% of voters express concern about public television having to significantly cut educational shows that help children prepare for success in school.
  • PBS/public television enjoys a very high image rating among the electorate (69% positive v. 7% negative). Among those that voted for President Trump, PBS/public television has a much higher positive image rating (60%) than the traditional broadcast networks (37%), cable TV networks (41%) and newspapers (24%).
  • 2 in 3 voters think it is very or fairly important for America to have a strong public television system.
  • A top reason for protecting federal funding for public television is that it provides more than 120,000 trusted learning tools and free resources for teachers, parents, and caregivers to use in the classroom and at home. 67% of Republicans, 73% of independents, and 87% of Democrats found this to be a convincing reason.
  • Arguments for eliminating federal funding for public television do not resonate strongly with voters of any political affiliation. Common arguments for eliminating federal funding for public television, such as the number of channels available on cable and other pay television services, were found convincing by just 21%-26% of voters.

Survey Background

Hart Research Associates (D) and American Viewpoint (R) conducted a nationwide telephone survey among a representative cross-section of 1001 registered voters. Interviewing was conducted January 4-8, 2017, and the survey has an overall margin of error of ±3.1%. Charts and analysis of the Hart Research – American Viewpoint survey are available here. A memo on the results by Hart Research – American Viewpoint can be found here.

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About PBS SoCal KOCE

PBS SoCal is the home to PBS for Greater Los Angeles and Southern California. We deliver the full schedule of PBS programs, plus content that is for, about and by the people of Southern California. Our content is available free through three broadcast channels, at, on our mobile apps, and via connected TV services. And we provide the community with early education resources and cultural and educational experiences through partnerships, events and grassroots outreach. PBS SoCal has offices in Century City, Costa Mesa, and Los Angeles. Connect with us at and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.


Jennifer Vides
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