President Donald Trump’s first budget plan, released Thursday, March 16, proposes eliminating funding for public broadcasting by fiscal year 2018. We take funding threats seriously whenever they occur and we want to provide these facts about public media and the federal funds appropriated to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). We also hope you will do your part to show your support for South Dakota Public Broadcasting and public media in general.
Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?
In general, it is public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality, non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and people in need. In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming. Without funding, many stations would likely be unable to continue to provide local communities with this programming.
In addition, the CPB helps negotiate music rights for all public stations and provides administrative support, allowing stations to aggregate together for cost-effective sharing of information, research and services.
Federal funding is essential to the funding mix that supports public broadcasting, providing money for basic operations for many local stations. On average, stations leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from local sources — a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.
What is the CPB's role in public broadcasting?
CPB’s role in public media is to shield stations from political influence, and deliver federal support in a way that does not affect a station’s ability to operate independently. More than 1,041 local public radio stations and more than 365 local public television stations currently receive support from CPB. CPB also provides funding to producers of programming, but cannot distribute or broadcast it. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is distinct from both National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). It is not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967.
CPB distributes money in the form of “community service grants” (CSGs) to noncommercial public television and radio stations that provide significant public service programming to their communities. CSGs help stations expand the quality and scope of their work, whether in educational, news, public affairs or other programming—all of which represent an immeasurable value to the American people. Stations must each year meet a variety of legal, managerial, staffing and operational criteria to qualify for CSG funding.
How much funding is appropriated to the CPB?
Annual funding for the CPB has been level at $445 million for several years. That amounts to about $1.35 per American per year and that represents 0.01 percent (one one-hundredth of one percent) of the federal budget.
How much CPB funding does SDPB receive?
This year, approximately 22 percent of SDPB’s budgeted revenue will come from the CPB. We are fortunate to have a wide variety of revenue sources, which breaks down like this:
- State funding – 55%
- Federal funding (CPB) – 22%
- Individual donors – 10%
- Local businesses – 6%
- Grants and other support – 7%
What would happen if SDPB lost CPB funding?
Losing CPB funds would have a noticeable effect on our ability to serve the community with local news and public affairs programming as well as in other areas of our operations. Our ability to continue to offer quality programming, delivered efficiently with the latest technology would be severely impacted. We would also have difficulty continuing to provide programming to certain areas of the state – some of which SDPB serves as the sole television broadcast signal.
Here is the latest Local Content Service Report Local Content & Service Report (3.1 MB) (for FY16).
CPB also provides money to Native American radio stations around the nation. In South Dakota, KLND, Little Eagle, SD (Standing Rock/Cheyenne River) qualifies for CPB community service grants.
If changes are made to the current funding system, when would they take place?
That’s hard to say. However, funding for 2017 has already been distributed to the CPB, and first payments have been made to stations, including SDPB. The appropriation for the CPB is booked two years in advance, so funding has been allocated for FY2018 and FY2019, but has not yet been distributed. Technically, these appropriations could be rescinded, but it would take an act of Congress to make that happen.
What happened the last time a bill to reduce public broadcasting funding came before Congress?
In 2015, a bill to reduce CPB funding was introduced and was soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis 294-132.
How does the public feel about government support for public media?
A recent national survey of 1,001 registered voters by a bipartisan polling team of Hart Research Associates and American Viewpoint revealed strong support for funding public broadcasting (overall margin for error is +/- 3.1 percent). Among the findings:
- 73% of voters are against eliminating federal funding for public broadcasting
- 83% of voters (including 70% of Trump supporters) would tell their U.S. senator or congressperson to find savings somewhere other than public television funding
- 2 in 3 voters think it is very or fairly important for America to have a strong public television system
- 3 in 4 voters want federal funding for public television increased or maintained at current levels.
Why does the public support public media so passionately?
There is one word that summarizes the reason so many people support public media: TRUST. A nationwide study just concluded that PBS and its member stations are America’s most trusted nationally known media institution – for the 14th consecutive year! In addition, the same survey found that parents rank PBS KIDS as the #1 educational media brand in the country. That’s a tremendous vote of support that’s hard to ignore.
How can I show my support for public broadcasting?
A strong, diverse base of grassroots advocates is essential to ensuring the retention of federal funding. One entity formed to unify that support is Protect My Public Media, a collaboration of local public radio and TV stations, program producers and distributors, listeners and viewers who support a strong public media in the United States. You can help by sharing your testimonial here — they will be used as a resource when meeting with policy makers in the coming months.