Objectives. The logic of collective action suggests that public broadcasting stations should not receive the empirically observed level of member support they do. Why do people contribute to public television when they can view it without contributing?

Methods. The hypothesis tested is that “norms of cooperation” govern the behavior of individuals in collective action situations. This article tests the hypothesis with an original survey of public television viewers in three large communities.

Results. The survey data provide support for the “norms of cooperation” hypothesis. The higher the level of characteristics of an individual that measure cooperation, the more likely the individual is to give to public broadcasting, all other factors being equal.

Conclusions. Norms of cooperation—an important part of social capital—help overcome the logic of collective action where it concerns public television contributions.