White House Preserves CPB Funding

2014 budget requested full funding of $445 million for CPB's FY 2016 advance appropriation
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Big Bird's head remained safe from the
chopping block in the Obama administration's 2014 budget, though it will be up
to Congress to approve that and other proposals.

"[Wednesday],
President Obama submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget to Congress,
requesting full funding of $445 million for CPB's FY 2016 advance
appropriation," said Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) CEO Patricia
Harrison, who thanked the President on behalf of millions of Americans who use
public media.

CPB distributes the approximately 15% (on
average) of a noncommercial station's budget that comes from federal money.

"The
President's request reinforces the value of public media's in-depth news
reporting, our commitment to providing a safe place where children can learn,
on-air, online, and in the community, and our commitment to lifelong learning
through initiatives such as American Graduate helping to keep America's young
people on the path to a high school diploma," said Harrison.

The
issue of noncommercial funding became a presidential campaign flashpoint when
Mitt Romney suggested during one of the debates that he liked Big Bird, just
not well enough to keep funding the popular Sesame
Street
character.

"I'm
sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," Romney said to debate
moderator Jim Lehrer. "I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you,
too. But I'm not going to keep spending money on things, borrowing money from China to pay for it."

But
it is not only Republicans that have taken aim at noncom funding.

The
co-chairs of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and
Reform back in 2010 recommended zeroing out funding for the Corporation for
Public Broadcasting as one way to help save $200 billion, but the President
wound up not acting on those and other recommendations that drew flak from
various quarters.

The
Association of Public Television Stations was also thankful for the funding. "We thank the President for understanding the value of local public
broadcasting stations who provide the highest-quality educational,
informational and cultural services to every American, every day, for
free," said CEO Patrick Butler.

But
his joy was not unalloyed. He said it was unfortunate and disappointing that
the budget also included "consolidation" to the Ready to Learn
competitive grant program, and phase-out of the Rural Utilities Service's
public TV digital transition fund.

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