The president’s preliminary Fiscal 2021 budget is proposing to end all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) within 2 years – a budget plan that has previously been on the books in past years. The proposal would eliminate all but $30 million of each year’s funding for CPB, which helps fund public radio and TV news and programming initiatives, in Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022; the $30 million would represent the cost of closing down the funding and is similar to President Trump’s proposals of the last three budgets. The budget statement claims private fundraising has negated the need for federal funding. “Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members,” the budget plan states. “In addition, alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially since CPB was first established in 1967, greatly reducing the need for publicly funded programming options.” CPB received $445 million in funding for the 2020 fiscal year & has requested the same from the 2021 budget.
Responding to the news, CEO/President of CPB, Patricia Harrison said: “We look forward to working with Congress in the continued pursuit of our statutory public service mission of supporting educational, informational and diverse content that addresses the needs of our nation’s citizens — a mission the American people overwhelmingly trust in and support. The federal appropriation to CPB is the foundation of our uniquely American, public-private partnership that supports our nation’s public media system — a system of more than 1,500 locally controlled and operated public television and radio stations across the country. This seed money pays invaluable dividends to millions of Americans and their families in the form of content and resources that educate, inform and inspire. Through public media initiatives such as American Graduate and Ready To Learn, stations provide high-quality educational content and community engagement that helps Americans prepare for success in school and career. As the most trusted news source in America, local public media stations offer journalism that elevates local stories to a national audience. Further, public media stations’ infrastructure provides critical communications functions during local and national emergencies to first responders and emergency management officials.”
Past budget proposals to cut Public Broadcasting funding have resulted in Congress coming to the aid of CPB. In late December 2019, Congress approved and Trump signed a pair of federal spending bills under which CPB will get $465 million in its fiscal 2022 advance appropriation, a $20 million boost over what it received in the previous federal budget.