New National Survey Shows 73% of Voters Oppose Eliminating Federal Funding for Public Television

Last Updated by Skyler Reep on
73% of Voters Oppose Eliminating Federal Funding for Public Television
American Viewpoint & Hart Research

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 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.”

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.

About PBS
PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.