As Budget Debates Begin, Republicans Put NPR, PBS on Chopping Block

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For NPR, only about 2 percent of its funding comes from federally funded organizations, while 40 percent of the revenue is generated through station programming fees and 26 percent through sponsorships.

NPR stations, however, rely more heavily on federal and state grants. CPB funding makes up 10 percent of funding; federal, state and local government funding constitutes about six percent of a station's revenue source while 32 percent comes from individuals and 21 percent from businesses.

The same holds true for PBS. While CPB appropriations equal about 15 percent of PBS's revenue, for many stations, the appropriation counts for as much as 40-50 percent of their budget, according to spokeswoman Anne Bentley.

While NPR has long been eyed as Republicans as liberal leaning, its audience base is diverse. Forty-five percent of its audience identify themselves as moderate, while 29 percent identify as liberal and 22 percent as Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center poll released in September. But most of its audience may be more sympathetic toward Democrats than other broadcast outlets.

Sixty-five percent of those polled in the Pew survey who watch NPR said they approved of the job President Obama is doing, higher than the overall national average.

It's not just Republicans in the House who are eyeing public television and radio for budget cuts. Some states are also looking at cutting back or altogether eliminating such funding.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spearheaded efforts to end state funding for public broadcasts that last week got a nod of approval from the Virginia House of Delegates.

Similar legislation has been spearheaded across the country, in states like New Jersey and Colorado that are dealing with hefty budget deficits.

If these cuts do go into effect, stations will have to take drastic measures to stay on the airwaves.

"For some it would be, at least in short term, a disaster," Sterling said. "If you take away a big piece of that money, especially all at once... you'll see what's happening with some of the public universities."

"The short term would be tough," he added. "It'd probably mean layoffs. Some would limit their hours. In a few extreme situations a few might have to go off the air."

ABC News' Amy Bingham contributed to this report.

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