The federal government issued about $420 million last year for public media. Obama's recent budget request included $451 million for this purpose. The total over the last decade is about $4 billion, according to Coburn and DeMint.
PBS and NPR both receive a mix of federal and corporate funds. NPR gets 2 percent of its funding from federal subsidies, while PBS gets about 15 percent, according to the senators.
The outlets "will do just fine without largess from Washington," Coburn said.
The senators pointed to the popularity of the outlets to say they don't need taxpayer money.
Proposals to defund public media, which are not unusual around budget time, have already provoked strong pushback from Democrats in both chambers.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said this week that he will "fight for this critical funding as the budget process continues."
For certain stations, "federal support … can be 10 percent or more of their budget. These cuts would be disastrous for public broadcasting," he said.
Cross-posted from Hillicon Valley.