Federal Funding for Public Media

Posted on March 15th, 2017

Read the statement from PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger on proposed cuts to federal funding for public broadcasting.

Read the statement from CPB President and CEO Patricia Harrison.

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?

Federal funding is essential to the funding mix that supports public broadcasting, providing money for basic operations for many local stations. On average, stations leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from local sources — a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.

In general, it is public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality, non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and people in need. In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming. Without funding, many stations would likely be unable to continue to provide local communities with this programming.

In addition, the CPB helps negotiate music rights for all public stations and provides administrative support, allowing stations to aggregate together for cost-effective sharing of information, research and services.

What is the CPB’s role in public broadcasting?

The CPB is distinct from both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It is not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967 with two primary functions:

  1. Serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting
  2. Help fund programming, stations and technology

How much funding is appropriated to the CPB?

Annual funding for the CPB has been level at $445 million for several years. That amounts to about $1.35 per American per year and that represents 0.01 percent (one one-hundredth of one percent) of the federal budget.

If changes are made to the current funding system, when would they take place?

That’s hard to say. However, funding for 2017 has already been distributed to the CPB, and first payments have been made to stations, including WVUT. The appropriation for the CPB is booked two years in advance, so funding has been allocated for 2018 and 2019, but has not yet been distributed. Technically, these appropriations could be rescinded, but it would take an act of Congress to make that happen.

What happened the last time a bill to reduce public broadcasting funding came before Congress?

In 2015, a bill to reduce CPB funding was introduced and was soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis 294-132.

How does the public feel about government support for public media?

A just-completed national survey of 1,001 registered voters by a bipartisan polling team of Hart Research Associates and American Viewpoint revealed strong support for funding public broadcasting (overall margin for error is +/- 3.1 percent). Among the findings:

  • 73% of voters are against eliminating federal funding for public television
  • 83% of voters (including 70% of Trump supporters) would tell their U.S. senator or congressperson to find savings somewhere other than public television funding
  • 2 in 3 voters think it is very or fairly important for America to have a strong public television system
  • 3 in 4 voters want federal funding for public television increased or maintained at current levels.

Why does the public support public media so passionately?

There is one word that summarizes the reason so many people support public media: trust. A nationwide study just concluded that PBS and its member stations are America’s most trusted nationally known media institution – for the 14th consecutive year! In addition, the same survey found that parents rank PBS KIDS as the #1 educational media brand in the country. That’s a tremendous vote of support that’s hard to ignore.

How can I show my support for public broadcasting?

A strong, diverse base of grassroots advocates is essential to ensuring the retention of federal funding. One entity formed to unify that support is Protect My Public Media, a collaboration of local public radio and TV stations, program producers and distributors, listeners and viewers who support a strong public media in the United States. You can help by sharing your testimonial here — they will be used as a resource when meeting with policy makers in the coming months.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017 at 12:12 pm and is filed under Featured.

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