CPB's Harrison: Budget Would 'Destroy' Public Media's Role

Noncommercial media executives decry threat to public media funding, mission
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Using terms like "devastate" and "destroy," top noncommercial media execs were quick to respond to President Donald Trump's plans to cut the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's almost half a billion dollars in funding for public radio, TV and digital.

CPB is forward funded through 2019, but the budget would undue that budgeting some for unwinding CPB in 2017 and providing no funding in 2018 and beyond.

“There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services," said CPB president Patricia Harrison. "The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions for Americans in rural and urban communities alike."

“The President’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) defies the will of the American people and would devastate the educational and public safety missions of public television they value most," said America’s Public Television Stations president Patrick Butler.

He said for the estimated $1.35 per citizen per year the service costs, those stations:

  • "Get millions of preschool children ready to learn in school and succeed in life.
  • Help two million teachers enlighten 40 million K-12 students in American classrooms every day.
  • Provide the backbone for presidential communications with the American people in times of national emergency, link local law enforcement and first responder agencies with one another and with the public.
  • Partner with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote public safety datacasting nationwide, and commit 1 Megabit per second of their bitstream to support the FirstNet federal public safety communications network.
  • Serve as the “C-SPAN” of state governments, host candidate debates at every level of the ballot, and produce 200 daily or weekly series on local public affairs, history and culture.”

"America's Public Television Stations look now to the Congress to respect the clear will of the American people, to honor the long history of bipartisan support for our work, and to continue the federal government’s investment in our essential missions of education, public safety and civic leadership," said Butler.

PBS president Paula Kerger said her member stations would "continue to remind the Congress of our strong support among Republican and Democratic voters."

The President's budget is only a proposal. Congress must approve it, so there will almost certainly be many changes before the final budget.

"We have always had support from both parties in Congress, and will again make clear what the public receives in return for federal funding for public broadcasting. The cost of public broadcasting is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse," said Kerger.

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