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CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING

FUNDING BRIEF: CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) allows local public broadcasting stations to provide America’s communities with a wide array of unique, high-quality, innovative content, community outreach and services.

ACTION REQUEST

  • Local public television stations request level funding of $445 million in advance funding for CPB in FY 2017.
     
  • Level funding for CPB will allow local stations to continue serving their diverse audiences on-air, online and on-the-ground in their communities. Stations will continue to be most trusted, local providers of vital information and public service, particularly in the areas of education, civic engagement and public safety.

BACKROUND

CPB was created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 as a federally chartered nonprofit corporation with the goal of supporting the development of America’s public television and radio stations and the mission of developing and ensuring universal access to noncommercial, high-quality programming and telecommunications services for the American public.

Under a statutorily mandated funding formula, approximately 71% of funds appropriated to CPB by Congress go directly to local stations in the form of Community Service Grants (CSGs). These CSGs are irreplaceable seed money which account for, on average, 15% of station revenues, though that number can be between 30% and 100% for many smaller and rural stations.

CPB also plays an important role in system support, paying stations’ copyright fees for performance rights; spearheading industry initiatives such as the American Graduate Initiative, Local Journalism Centers and station emergency communications grants; and conducting system-wide research to help stations better serve their local communities. All of these services are provided through economies of scale, which save stations tremendous amounts of money.

WHY SHOULD FEDERAL FUNDS SUPPORT CPB & LOCAL PUBLIC BROADCASTING STATIONS?

  • Local public broadcasting stations are providing nearly 99% of Americans with unique community resources that would not otherwise be available, including unmatched noncommercial children’s educational programming; local programming; formal and informal educational instruction for all ages; in-depth news and public affairs programming that strengthens the nation’s democracy; and cutting-edge innovations in digital technology that have greatly enhanced public safety.
     
  • Stations pursue these public service missions not only through the powerful broadcasting platform but also, and increasingly, in a variety of other media and on-the-ground through trusted local partnerships with educators, public safety agencies, governments, and others committed to improving and enriching the lives of the citizens we serve.
     
  • Public broadcasters have a mission to provide services, free of charge, to every household in America. Local stations serve the most rural communities and populations that are otherwise unserved or underrepresented in the commercial marketplace. For many of these populations and communities, public broadcasting provides the only media platform for their diverse voices.
     
  • The federal investment in public broadcasting stations is broadly supported by Americans across the political spectrum. A February 2011 poll by the bipartisan firm Hart Research/American Viewpoint shows that 69% of all Americans, including 83% of Democrats, 69% of Independents and 56% of Republicans, oppose eliminating government funding for public broadcasting. In addition, the same poll shows that Americans consider PBS to be the second most appropriate expenditure of public funds, behind only national defense.
     
  • Federal funding is the foundation of the system that makes these public broadcasting services possible and, at only approximately $1.35 per American per year, this small investment produces exponential returns for taxpayers.
     
  • Federal funding is the “lifeblood” of public broadcasting, providing critical seed money for local stations to develop local programming and operate their facilities. In addition, local stations are able to leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from other sources, demonstrating a highly successful and model public-private partnership.
     
  • The Government Accountability Office has concluded that federal funding, such as funding through CPB, is an irreplaceable source of revenue for public broadcasting and that “substantial growth of nonfederal funding appears unlikely.”
    • For the vast majority of stations, losing CPB support would mean a drastic and immediate cutback in service, local programming and personnel. In many cases, stations would “go dark.”
       
    • If the average local public television station had to replace the federal seed money, the station would need to raise more than twice the amount of funding that is currently provided by CPB.

CPB RESULTS

Public Service Media: America’s Largest Classroom:

  • Public television is helping to close the education achievement gap through cutting edge, noncommercial, educational content and resources for parents, teachers and kids.
    • Public television’s universally free content, available to nearly every household in America has helped more than 90 million pre-school age children get ready to learn and succeed in school.
       
    • Additionally, public television stations in underserved areas around the country hold events like literacy camps in classrooms and communities to help ensure that all American kids are prepared for success.
       
  • Stations have worked in partnership with PBS to create an online portal, PBS LearningMedia, where educators can access more than 35,000 standards-based curriculum, aligned digital learning objects created from public television content, as well as material from the Library of Congress, National Archives and other contributors to the Department of Education’s Learning Registry.
    • More than 1.3 million teachers have now registered to use PBS LearningMedia in K-12 classrooms around the country.
       
    • Twenty-eight thousand homeschoolers are using PBS LearningMedia, and that number is growing rapidly.
       
  • The public broadcasting system also leverages the unique local/national public broadcasting resources to provide online, anytime, anywhere teacher professional development courses for teachers across the country. Through PBS TeacherLine and E-Learning for Educators, hundreds of thousands of teachers have taken advantage of these professional development resources.
     
  • Three out of every 10 students in America’s public schools fail to finish high school and face far greater hardships than their graduating peers. Through the American Graduate Initiative, CPB, and public stations with their local community partners, are helping to address the nation’s dropout crisis through extensive outreach campaigns and the distribution of interactive and electronic educational tools that engage at-risk students.
     
  • Public television stations have made it a top priority to help retrain the American workforce, including veterans, by providing digital learning opportunities for those looking for training, licensing, continuing education credits and more.
     
  • Public television brings world-class teachers – of everything from physics to Mandarin Chinese – to the most remote schools in the country through “virtual high schools” operated across the United States.
     
  • Public television runs the most comprehensive GED program in the country, for hundreds of thousands of people whose high school education was interrupted prior to graduation.

Public Service Media: A Powerful Partner in Public Safety

  • Public broadcasting stations throughout the country are also leading innovators and irreplaceable partners to local public safety officials – working with schools, businesses and more to provide real-time emergency support for local law officials in times of crisis.
     
  • In many communities, public broadcasting stations are the last locally-owned and operated media outlets – serving as a critical public safety life line.
     
  • The nation’s digital presidential alert and warning system depends on the backbone infrastructure of local public television and radio stations to deliver critical national messages.
     
  • This same digital infrastructure provides the backbone for emergency alert, public safety, first responder and homeland security services in many States and local communities.
     
  • Stations are partnering with their local emergency responders to customize and utilize public television’s infrastructure for public safety in a variety of critical ways: equipping police cars with school blueprints when a crisis arises, providing access to 24/7 camera feeds for a variety of security challenges, connecting public safety agencies in real time and more.
     
  • Local public television and radio stations are also using their broadcast equipment to help send emergency alert text messages to cell phone subscribers through their providers – reaching citizens wherever they are, even when the power is out.
     
  • Many local stations are serving as their states primary Emergency Alert Service (EAS) hub for weather and AMBER alerts.

Public Service Media: Strengthening Citizenship in a Self-Governing Society

  • There is a pervasive concern among political leaders that Americans are losing the capacity to function as an effective self-governing society because of the lack of fundamental civic education – understanding how government works, who makes it work and the issues that must be decided – for citizens to be informed and actively engaged in the future of the nation.
     
  • Public television strengthens the American democracy by giving citizens the grounding they need in the history, culture and civic affairs of their communities, their States and their country.
     
  • Local public television stations serve as the “C-SPAN” of many State governments, providing the most remote corners of the country with access to the State legislative process, Governors’ messages, court proceedings and more.
     
  • As virtually the only locally-owned and operated media remaining in America, public television provides more public affairs programming, more local history and culture, more candidate debates, more specialized agricultural news, more community partnerships to deal with issues of concern to constituents and more citizenship information of all kinds than anyone else in the media universe.
     
  • Public radio provides civic education in real time 24 hours a day, informing our citizens in greater depth than anyone else on news of the world, issues in all 50 States and how an extraordinarily diverse American culture shapes our political decision-making.
     
  • And through such classic documentary series as The Civil War, Lewis & Clark, Baseball, Jazz, The War, The Dust Bowl and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and forthcoming works on the Vietnam War and the history of country music (among many others), Ken Burns has fulfilled the mission given him by President Reagan to be “the preserver of the national memory.”

The mission of public broadcasters is to provide all Americans with free, non-commercial, high-quality, educational programming that informs, enlightens and enriches the public. Local public broadcasting stations are America’s largest classroom and its greatest stage, teachers of young and old alike, agents of better citizenship, stewards of American civilization and keepers of the national memory.

Public broadcasting stations call on Congress to maintain two-year advance funding for CPB to ensure that public broadcasting can continue to support a well-educated, well-informed, cultured and civil society fully capable of meeting its responsibilities as the oldest and greatest democracy on earth.


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Advocacy Center

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Leadership Council

Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) briefed the Leadership Council on the congressional outlook on public broadcasting funding
Michael Dimock, President of the Pew Research Center, briefed Leadership Council members on the state of polling in 2016.