Accuracy in Media

NPR, which has been under attack after video footage from James O’Keefe showed a now former network executive saying that NPR would be just fine without federal funding, is going to run a surplus or “modest margin,” this year.

Daily Finance reports on the network’s financial turnaround:

As a whole, NPR — as is common for a nonprofit — usually runs a deficit. According to audited financial statements, NPR’s revenue ran a $8.3 million deficit in the 2010 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Revenues rose to $184.3 million from $148.7 million a year earlier, while expenses jumped to $192.5 last year from $166.6 million in 2009. But after cutting staff and scaling back benefits in 2008, NPR expects to make a “modest margin” this year, according to spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm.

This would normally be good news, except that NPR is locked in a battle over future government funding, running a surplus shows good fiscal management but may also lend credence to the idea that they don’t need more taxpayer money.

One thing that may add even more to the ire of conservatives is the revelation of salaries being paid to the on air talent at NPR.

According to the 2008 IRS 990 reports obtained by Daily Finance, NPR hosts aren’t exactly suffering financially.

Morning Edition host Renee Montagne  $405,140

Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep $356,499

All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel $358,653

Fresh Air host and executive producer Terry Gross $245,563

NPR spokesman Dana Davis Rehm told  DailyFinance that the hosts deserve their pay, and that  “I don’t think we have anything to be apologetic about,” claiming that they could earn higher wages elsewhere.

But Michael  Harrison,  publisher  of Talkers magazine, disagrees with Rehm, saying that NPR spends more money on its programs’ employees than most commercial radio stations, and that Gross certainly wouldn’t be able to command the same salary in the private sector.

The battle over the funding of NPR will rage on for a while but until the Republicans can get some support in the Senate, the taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for their largess, and NPR hosts will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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