How would you keep wolf from the door?
Sure there are other ways to fund public broadcasting besides government and corporate support - but none are likely to be of much use to a Public Broadcasting Service facing immediate money problems.
Public broadcasting faces a possible loss of $89 million to $134 million in federal and other tax-based support, without considering inflation, says a report of the Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing for Public Telecommunications. If the losses are not made up by some means, there will be reductions in the level and quality of the services public broadcasting now provides.
The most adversely affected would be those least able to afford pay substitutes. The report states that service cutbacks are most likely to occur in rural areas, where the range of news, information, and entertainment is already limited. In this prospective era of pay-information, one critic has already suggested that local social service agencies may be forced to issue ''cable stamps'' to satisfy the need for information and other services among the poor.
The likelihood that partial commercial substitutes such as cable will emerge is limited, too. The commission report speculates that eventually some combination of financing alternatives could help, but such options are not likely to solve the immediate funding problem.
A list of the 33 most-discussed PBS funding options was presented in the report, ranging from ''enhanced program underwriting'' (public-service announcements by corporations) at the head of the list, to ''lotteries'' in the last position.
One of the suggestions - a spectrum use fee charged to stations for use of the wavelength - has been among the methods most often discussed since the first Carnegie Commission report on telecommunications. Recently, FCC chairman Mark S. Fowler suggested it again as a quick method for funding PBS. Not surprisingly, the National Association of Broadcasters has come out against it, but its protests seem to be getting weaker.
Some of the other interesting suggestions:
* Advertising announcements.
* Leasing of excess satellite equipment.
* Teleconference services (using equipment to provide businessmen with long-distance electronic conferences).
* Teletext service (selling a computerized newspaper information service).
* Program guide advertising (this is already being tried in the Dial)
* Subscription television service (such a cultural pay-cable service is already in the discussion stage at PBS).
* An excise tax on new TV or radio receivers, or both (such a tax is already levied in Britain).
* Tax credits for contributions to PBS.
* Tax-return checkoffs for public brodcasting.
* Taxes on advertising revenues of commercial broadcasters.
(The complete list is found in the July 1982, Volume 1, report of the Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing for Public Telecommunications. If you can figure out a better way to alleviate the PBS money crunch, the temporary commission would like to hear from you.)