Senate Committee Funds CPB's Ready To Learn, DTV


The Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday approved a 2007 budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that leaves intact money for the digital transition, the Ready to Learn initiative, and arguably most importantly, the two-year forward funding process.

That's according to CPB President Patricia Harrison, who said CPB was grateful for the money.

Forward funding is an attempt to insulate CPB from a politicized budget process, though even with that forward-funding the exercise has become something of a posterchild for politicized budget processes, with Republicans attempting to gut its appropriation, claiming government-subsidized liberal bias, and Democrats holding rallies to combat the cuts, which have mostly, ultimately, been restored.

Under the bill, CPB will get $400 million in 2009. In the nearer term, for 2007 it will get $36 million for system interconnection upgrages, $29.7 million for the digital converstion, and $24.2 million for Ready to Learn, which has been in the crosshairs--despite administration support for the program--ever since its Postcards From Buster series got some Washington knickers in a twist over its "two mommies" episode. Buster is no longer funded under that program, which has refocused on more curriculum-centric early childhood education.

But CPB is not out of the woods. The House Appropriations Committee passed a CPB 2007 appropriation last month that does not fund either Ready To Learn or the DTV transition, or any forward funding for 2009. Like the Senate version, the House version awaits a floor vote, after which any differences in the bills must be reconciled in conference.

Harrison said she would continue to push for the funds as the process continues, likely well into September, or beyond.
Elsewhere, the CPB board met this week to allocate the $412 million it has budgeted itself for 2007. Public TV will get $276 million; public radio, $92 million, and the rest ($24 million) goes to various industrywide services including interconnection, research, and music licensing fees.