The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday voted to restore more than $100 million the House wants to strip from 2006 funding for public television.
The measure proposes restoring $400 million in fiscal 2008 advance funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as providing $35 million in 2006 for CPB to pass on to rural TV stations needing help constructing digital television facilities and a $40 million installment for the replacement of Public Television’s aging satellite interconnection system.
In addition, $25 million was approved for Ready To Learn, the PBS program for funding educational shows. The measure also would earmark $11 million for Ready To Teach.
“Without this victory, our stations would have been in a severe financial bind. Some smaller stations would have gone off of the air, with the entire industry being placed at risk from a very negative ripple effect,” said John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS). APTS applauds the leadership of Subcommittee Chairman Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), and the tireless efforts of APTS members stations to mobilize their supporters and achieve this victory. “We’ve really had a public referendum on the question of federal funding for public broadcasting, and Congress has responded.”
If approved by the Senate and agreed to by the House, the restored money would bring the total of PBS funds restored from a House Appropriations Committee bill that would have slashed public broadcasting funds to $211 million.
The House Appropriations Committee measure would have cut 45% from 2005 funding levels.
A June 23 vote by the full House previously restored $100 million for CPB by a two-to-one margin. Funding Ready To Learn and Ready To Teach, the digital television transition, and the satellite interconnection system remained unfunded in the House version.
PBS spokeswoman Ronnie Gunnerson said the Senate Committee vote indicates broad bipartisan support for maintaining the quality of public broadcasting constraints on government spending. "Even in this austere budget climate, public broadcasting's collective efforts are recognized and appreciated by the public and the Congress," she said.