House Restores CPB's $100 Million


The House has voted 284 to 140--including 80-plus Republicans--to restore $100 million in funds to CPB, though another $100 million, including for kids shows, remained on the cutting room floor.

Two weeks ago, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's base budget--for funding programming and station operations for FY 2006--was cut by almost a quarter by a House Appropriations committee.
The service had asked for $400 million, and the Bush administration had proposed $390 million, but the House committee approved only $300 million.

Noncommercial broadcasters and their allies have been mobilizing to restore the cuts, saying they threaten the health of the service and the survival of some smaller local stations.

Republican legislators have countered that PBS can raise more money to make up the difference in what would be a 4% cut in their total budget (they only get 15% of their money from the feds), though a 22% cut in the federal allotment.

CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson was pleased with the move, and said he would work to make sure it survived: "We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to restore full funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for Fiscal Year 2006 in this year's Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill," he said in a statement. "We will work with our colleagues in the public broadcasting community to make the case for protecting this funding as the appropriations measure makes its way through Congress."

Missing from the amendment were another $100 million in cuts, including funding for the Ready to Learn kids show grant, for the digital conversion, and interconnection funds for distributing shows to stations.

That troubled an otherwise pleased Pat Mitchell, president of PBS: "Despite this victory, we remain very concerned that essential funds were nonetheless eliminated for our Ready To Learn children's programming initiative, for the interconnection system that links PBS with local stations and for the transition to digital broadcasting mandated by Congress," she said. "With these cuts, the financial burden of maintaining these operations will fall entirely to local public television stations, decimating their ability to finance local programming, educational outreach and even to air PBS programming. 
"In terms of the digital transition, without restoration of funds, many local  PBS stations, especially those in rural areas, will be unable to complete the transition and will go dark when their analog signal goes off. 

"With the future of the public broadcasting system still at stake, we  will continue to work with APTS and NPR to ensure that full funding will be restored as the bill moves through the U.S. Senate and to conference committee." 

Those could be restored in conference or in the Senate. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), for one, was vocal in her support for restoring kids funding last week.