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CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING

FUNDING BRIEF: CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) allows local public broadcasting stations to provide America’s communities with a wide array of unique, high-quality, innovative content, community outreach and services.

ACTION REQUEST

  • Local public television stations request continued level funding of $445 million in advance funding for FY 2020 for CPB.
     
  • Level funding for CPB will allow local stations to continue serving their diverse audiences on-air, online and on-the-ground in their communities. Stations will continue to be the most trusted, local providers of vital information and public service, particularly in the areas of education, public safety and civic leadership.

BACKGROUND

CPB was created by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 as a federally chartered nonprofit corporation with the goal of supporting the development of America’s public television and radio stations and the mission of developing and ensuring universal access to noncommercial, high-quality programming and telecommunications services for the American public.

Under a statutorily mandated funding formula, approximately 71% of funds appropriated to CPB by Congress go directly to local stations in the form of Community Service Grants (CSGs). These CSGs are irreplaceable seed money which account for, on average, 15% of station revenues, though that number can be between 30% and 100% for many smaller and rural stations.

CPB also plays an important role in system support, paying stations’ copyright fees for performance rights; spearheading industry initiatives such as the American Graduate Initiative, Local Journalism Centers and station emergency communications grants; and conducting system-wide research to help stations better serve their local communities. All of these services are provided through economies of scale, which save stations tremendous amounts of money.

WHY SHOULD FEDERAL FUNDS SUPPORT CPB & LOCAL PUBLIC BROADCASTING STATIONS?

  • Local public broadcasting stations are providing nearly 99% of Americans with unique community resources that would not otherwise be available, including unmatched noncommercial children’s educational programming; local cultural programming; formal and informal educational instruction for all ages; in-depth news and public affairs programming that strengthens the nation’s democracy; and cutting-edge innovations in digital technology that have greatly enhanced public safety.
     
  • Stations pursue these public service missions not only through the powerful broadcasting platform but also, and increasingly, in a variety of other media and on-the-ground activities through trusted local partnerships with educators, public safety agencies, governments, and others committed to improving and enriching the lives of the citizens we serve.
     
  • Public broadcasters have a mission to provide services, free of charge, to every household in America. Local stations serve the most rural communities and populations that are otherwise unserved or underrepresented in the commercial marketplace. For many of these populations and communities, public broadcasting provides the only media platform for their diverse voices.
     
  • The federal investment in public broadcasting stations is broadly supported by Americans across the political spectrum. A January 2017 poll by the bipartisan team of Hart Research and American Viewpoint shows that 72% of Americans, including 83% of Democrats, 71% of Independents and 62% of Republicans, believe that public television is a good or excellent value for their tax dollars. 
     
  • Federal funding is the foundation of the system that makes these public broadcasting services possible and, at only approximately $1.35 per American per year, this small investment produces exponential returns for taxpayers.
     
  • Federal funding is the “lifeblood” of public broadcasting, providing critical seed money for local stations to develop local programming and operate their facilities. In addition, local stations are able to leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from other sources, demonstrating a highly successful and model public-private partnership.
     
  • The Government Accountability Office has concluded that federal funding, such as funding through CPB, is an irreplaceable source of revenue for public broadcasting and that “substantial growth of nonfederal funding appears unlikely.”
    • For the vast majority of stations, losing CPB support would mean a drastic and immediate cutback in service, local programming and personnel. In many cases, stations would “go dark.”
       
    • If the average local public television station had to replace the federal seed money, the station would need to raise more than twice the amount of funding that is currently provided by CPB.

CPB RESULTS

Public Service Media: Education

Public television stations are educational institutions committed to lifelong learning for the American people. This work goes beyond the television, tablet or phone screen and begins with the most successful early childhood education ever devised and continues with unique classroom services and teacher professional development resources, high school equivalency preparation, workforce training and adult enrichment.

  • Early childhood educational television programming, the hallmark of public television, has helped 90 million kids get ready to learn in school and succeed in life. This free, universally available content has been proven to close the achievement gap.
     
  • Almost two million teachers and users serving an estimated 40 million students (including home schools) have registered access to more than 120,000 digital resources available through PBS LearningMedia. This partnership between PBS and local stations adapts public television programming - plus content from the Library of Congress, National Archives, NASA and more - to provide State curriculum-aligned, interactive digital learning objects for K-12 classrooms. 
     
  • Local public television stations throughout the country have partnered with PBS recently to bring a first-of-its-kind, free PBS KIDS 24/7 channel to their communities - providing kids throughout the country with the highest level of educational programming, available through local stations any time, day or night, over-the-air and streaming. 
     
  • Public television brings world-class teachers of specialty subjects to some of the most remote schools in the country through "virtual high schools" operated by stations across the United States.
     
  • Through CPB's American Graduate initiative, public television stations have helped reduce the high school drop-out rate to a historic low of 16.8 percent. 
     
  • Public television operates the largest nonprofit GED program in the country, helping tens of thousands of second-chance learners get their high school equivalency diplomas. 
     
  • Public television stations are leaders in workforce development, including the retraining of American veterans by providing digital learning opportunities for training, licensing, continuing education credits and more. 
     
  • Public television enriches the lives of everyone, everywhere, every day, for free, with the best history, science, cultural and public affairs programming on the air. 

Public Service Media: Public Safety

Public broadcasters have embraced their public safety mission and are focused on maximizing the broadcast spectrum for the public good. Public television stations are partnering with federal, State and local public safety, law enforcement and first responder organizations - connecting these agencies with one another, with the public and with life-saving datacasting services. 

Datacasting

  • America's Public Television Stations have partnered with the Department of Homeland Security to offer local first responders datacasting services that use the broadcast spectrum to help first responders send critical information and video to each other during times of crisis. 
     
  • Through these datacasting partnerships, public television stations are able to customize their infrastructure and broadcast spectrum to securely transmit essential encrypted information to responders in the field in real-time without the capacity constraints of traditional mobile or broadband delivery. 
     
  • The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Science and Technology conducted two successful pilots in Houston and Chicago utilizing public television's technology and spectrum to deliver encrypted video and data to a multitude of public safety end users. These pilots prove that public television can provide solutions for the current communications challenges of the public safety community and that public television can be a valuable partner for the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) initiative by providing high-quality, one-to-many communications services. 
     
  • To provide critical nationwide support to first responders, public television stations have committed 1 Megabit per second of spectrum to support FirstNet.

Emergency Alerts

  • Public television has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system that enables cell subscribers to receive geo-targeted text messages in the event of an emergency - reaching them wherever they are in times of crisis. 
     
  • This same digital infrastructure provides the backbone for emergency alert, public safety, first responder, and homeland security services in many States and communities, including many local stations that serve as their States' primary Emergency Alert Service (EAS) hub for severe weather and AMBER alerts.

Public Service Media: Civic Leadership

Public television regards its viewers as citizens rather than consumers.

Public television is committed to thorough and thoughtful historical and public affairs programming that provides all Americans with a better understanding of our country and its place in the world. Public television stations, all locally-controlled and locally-operated, are also helping citizens and communities understand the issues they face locally and regionally - enabling them to develop solutions based on facts and rooted in community partnerships. 

  • Local public television stations serve as the "C-SPAN" of many State governments, providing access to the State legislative process, Governors' messages, court proceedings and more. 
     
  • As virtually the only locally-controlled media remaining in America, public television provides more community public affairs programming, more local history and culture, more candidate debates, more specialized agricultural news, more community partnerships to deal with issues of concern like veterans' affairs and more civic information of all kinds than anyone else in the media universe. 
     
  • Through such programming as American Experience, American Masters, PBS NewsHour, Frontline and the works of Ken Burns, public television tells the story of America more thoroughly and authoritatively than anyone else in the media world. 
     
  • President Ronald Reagan hailed Ken Burns as "the preserver of the national memory," and Mr. Burns has often said he could not do his work anywhere but in public television. 

The mission of public broadcasters is to provide all Americans with free, noncommercial, high-quality, educational programming that informs, enlightens and enriches the public. Local public broadcasting stations are America’s largest classroom and its greatest stage, teachers of young and old alike, agents of better citizenship, stewards of American civilization and keepers of the national memory.


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