Congress shows support for public television

While the BBC struggles with its funding, the U.S. Congress showed continued support for American public broadcasting with total federal appropriations in FY 2005 rising more than two percent.

John Lawson, president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), expressed his appreciation for Congress’ continued support of public television, calling it “significant” that funding actually increased in the current fiscal environment.

The House and Senate adopted H.R. 4818, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005 by votes of 344-51 and 65-30, respectively. The 1300-page bill totals $388.4 billion and, to avoid a threatened veto, holds overall growth in domestic spending to less than one percent.

Funding for public broadcasting grew by more than $11 million, with the most significant increases coming in the form of federal support for digital infrastructure. While advance funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting remained steady at $400 million in FY 2007, funding for the new satellite system to interconnect local stations was $40 million, up from $9.9 million the previous year.

Congress allocated the $40 million to CPB to support the digital transition of local stations, $21 million for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP), and $10 million for public television stations serving rural populations to build out their digital infrastructure. Congress also provided $23.5 million for Ready To Learn, an increase of nearly $1 million, and $14.4 million for Ready To Teach, two important educational programs that support curriculum-based content and community-based outreach.

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