Local Public Television Stations Serve Rural America Like No One Else

Public broadcasting serves nearly 97 percent of Americans,
including those in the most rural areas.

The public broadcasting public-private partnership provides nearly 97 percent of Americans with access to free, unique, local community resources that would otherwise not be available. These include:

  • Children’s educational content that helps preschool kids get ready to learn and succeed in school.
  • PBS LearningMedia: A vast online portal that connects teachers, students, parents and caregivers to standards-based, State curriculum-aligned interactive digital learning objects and instructional material generated from the best of public television programming in science and history (as well as content from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, NASA  and other government agencies) revolutionizing the teaching and learning experience in K-12 classrooms around the country.
  • Local public affairs, historical and cultural programming not available anywhere else in the media universe. 
  • Lifelong learning opportunities ranging from virtual high schools to GED high-school diploma equivalency programs to job training programs.
  • Deployment of broadcast spectrum in public safety and homeland security partnerships nationwide, to provide enhanced communications capabilities to first responders, especially in rural areas with limited LTE and broadband service.

On average, the federal investment is approximately 15 percent of local public television stations’ budgets which serves as irreplaceable and critical seed money. For many rural stations however, federal funding can be 30-50 percent or more of their total budget.

  • Providing service to rural areas is more costly due to topography and distances between communities. In addition, it is more difficult for rural stations to raise local funds from individual donors due to the smaller and often economically strained population base.
  • A loss of federal funding would dramatically impact all stations, forcing them to curtail their programming and community outreach efforts, but rural stations would be the most likely to be forced off the air.