WASHINGTON – September 7, 2017 – America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) president and CEO Patrick Butler today urged Congress to approve an additional $400 million to help broadcasters repack their channels following the recently concluded spectrum auction.
In testimony before the House subcommittee on communications and technology, Butler said failure to secure the additional funds would endanger public television’s ability to provide essential services in education, public safety and civic leadership to America’s communities.
“For the 149 public television stations being repacked, the funding deficiency is more than $50 million,” Butler said. “This is in addition to the roughly $270 million which repacking public stations are scheduled to receive from the original $1.75 billion transition fund.
“These are all staggering, overwhelming figures for public television stations, operating as local, non-profit educational institutions,” he said, “and we must rely on the good faith of the Congress to hold us harmless in this transition, as promised.
“Incurring such an extraordinary expense would devastate the very programs and services that make public television so valued by so many millions of Americans across the country and across the political spectrum,” said Butler.
“For 54 percent of American families, public television is all the pre-school education they get,” he said. “PBS LearningMedia helps almost two million educators teach 40 million K-12 students with more than 120,000 curriculum-aligned interactive learning objects created from the best of public television, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, NASA and more.
“Our mission in civic leadership means serving as the ‘C-SPAN’ of state governments, hosting hundreds of candidate debates at every level of the ballot, and producing thousands of hours of programs on local public affairs, local history and local culture every year.
“And as we saw this past week, the public safety mission of local public television stations literally saves lives. A public safety datacasting network created by Houston Public Media and local emergency agencies enabled first responders to monitor flooding conditions by sending live video directly to the dashboards of emergency vehicles all across the vast Houston metropolitan area.
“These are the services whose survival is at stake if local public television stations are not able to complete their repack, for lack of sufficient resources,” Butler said.
Read Butler’s written testimony as prepared for delivery.
America's Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and helping member stations provide essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people. For more information, visit www.apts.org.