The Corporation for Public Broadcasting could receive an increase in federal funding for the first time 10 years.

In early May, the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee approved a bill recommending that the CPB receive a $50 million boost in funding for the 2022 financial year. This would give the organisation a total of $495 million in federal funds plus an extra $20 million for public media and interconnection in 2020, according to Current.

The approved bill is widely seen as a rebuke to the Trump administration’s FY2020 proposal by the Democrat-led House, which suggested cutting all taxpayer funding for the CPB.

CPB is the independent organisation that allocates federal funds to US public media. It is forward funded, in an attempt to shield it from politics.

The potential increase would “enable public broadcasting to educate more children, protect more lives and property, and enable more well-informed citizens to guide the world’s most important democracy”, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) CEO, Patrick Butler, said.

Yet despite the positive recommendation, a substantial proportion of US public media funding is sourced from elsewhere, such as from satellite services, membership fees and philanthropic donations. In fact, PBS, NPR and their affiliate stations have some of the most diverse income models of any public media organisations worldwide.

PBS funding in 2017. This chart from PMA’s recent Funding Public Media review, highlights the diversity of the broadcaster’s total income.

Much of the funding is precarious and open to significant risk, especially for smaller local stations. In a report following the bill, the committee encouraged public radio stations “to engage in public-private partnerships with state and local entities, including non-profits” as a means of ensuring continued access to local stations in underserved areas.

When secured, federal funding provides the backbone of the American public media system, giving broadcasters a stable basis upon which to source additional funding from elsewhere. It also offers value for money, with organisations like PBS frequently ranked among the most trusted institutions nationally.

In a statement to the Public Media Alliance, CEO and President of CPB, Patricia Harrison, said:

Public media, locally owned and operated, is an integral part of the communities they serve. Local content and engagement reflects community interest and concerns. CPB is proud to serve as the steward of the federal appropriation ensuring these funds help to strengthen communities in the areas of education, health, information, jobs—through programs such as Veterans Coming Home, American Graduate: Getting to Work; The Science of Addiction, Ready To Learn and so much more. We appreciate this bipartisan support in terms of our appropriation as it will help us continue to serve all Americans with content that benefits a strong civil society,  free of charge and commercial free.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Broadcasting Service are members of the Public Media Alliance


Header Image: A view from 2017 of the US Capitol after the recent restorations. Credit: erick4x4/iStock