Federal Funding For Public Media Under Threat

May 25, 2017

On May 23, 2017, the Trump Administration sent a full budget proposal to Congress for fiscal year 2018. Like the “skinny budget” blueprint released earlier this spring, it proposes elimination of federal funding for public media. Visit protectmypublicmedia.org to contact Congress, tweet your support and recruit your friends and neighbors to become advocates for public media.

The President’s budget isn’t law. It outlines what the Administration wants Congress to fund and not to fund.

Now, the House and Senate are reviewing this budget and writing their own, ultimately working together on a final congressional budget. The congressional budget is important because it sets the total amount the government can spend in a fiscal year. It also includes non-binding recommendations for how money should be used.

The congressional Appropriations Committees then write legislation that actually provides funding for specific programs, including those that support local public radio and TV stations.

Ultimately, Congress will make the final decisions on continued annual investment in the public broadcasting system. We continue to keep a close eye on developments and will update this page as we learn more.

Take action now: go to protectmypublicmedia.org to contact Congress, tweet your support and recruit your friends and neighbors to become advocates for public media.

Frequently Asked Questions About The CPB

What is CPB's role in public broadcasting?
The CPB is distinct from both NPR and PBS. It is not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967 with two primary functions: to serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting, and to help fund programming, stations and technology.

How much CPB funding does VPR receive?
This year, about 10 percent of VPR’s budgeted revenue will come from the CPB in the form of a Community Service Grant, about $829,000. In FY16, VPR received $754,000. In previous years VPR has received about $600,000 annually as a match from what we raise annually for membership and underwriting support. Because we are currently conducting a multi-year $10 million capital campaign, those funds are also being matched, giving VPR a few years of elevated CPB funding.

What would happen if VPR lost CPB funding?
At VPR, we feel it's important to receive funding from many diverse sources, including individual listeners, local businesses, foundations and the CPB. Losing CPB funds would have a noticeable effect on our ability to serve the community with local news and music programming.

If the agency was eliminated, we would not only lose the Community Service Grant funds, but we would need to raise additional funds to cover our share of other expenses the CPB currently pays for – the satellite system, music rights and more. 

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?
Federal funding is essential to the funding mix that supports public broadcasting. CPB funding provides critical seed money and basic operating support to local stations, which then leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from local sources — a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.

Federal funding provides essential support for 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 of color.

In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming – and with such small populations they often rely more heavily on federal funding. Without it, these stations would likely be unable to continue to provide local communities with news, information, cultural and educational programming that they currently provide, and could even go off the air altogether.

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.

Where can I learn more? And how can I make myself heard?
A strong, diverse base of grassroots advocates is essential to ensuring the retention of federal funding. A great resource is the Protect My Public Media website. There, you can contact Congress, tweet your support and recruit your friends and neighbors to become advocates for public media.

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