WASHINGTON—The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) last week asked Congress to appropriate $455 million for fiscal year 2021—$10 million more than the annual funding its requested since 2015.
CPB also asked for $20 million in fiscal year 2019 for replacement of the public broadcasting interconnection system and $30 million for the Department of Education’s Ready To Learn program. Last month, Congress allocated $445 million to CPB for fiscal 2020 in its omnibus spending bill.
Patricia de Stacy Harrison, president and CEO of CPB, who made the request April 19 to the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, said 95 cents of every dollar the corporation receives supports local public stations and programs, thereby serving their local communities.
“Through the nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public radio and television stations across the country, public media reaches 99 percent of the American people from big cities to small towns and rural communities,” said de Stacy Harrison. “At approximately $1.35 per citizen per year, it is one of America’s best infrastructure investments—paying huge dividends in education, public safety and civic leadership for millions of Americans and their families.”
She pointed to CPB’s collaboration with the Department of Education’s Ready To Learn program as an example of how public media combines “high-quality educational content” with the work happening on the ground in local communities.
Besides their work creating broadcast, Web and mobile content, local public broadcasters engage with “community partners” to extend their children’s content via Head Start centers, daycare facilities, local health centers and faith-based organizations, she said.
Referencing public media’s interconnection, de Stacy Harrison told the subcommittee how important the infrastructure is to public broadcasters. “Without it, there is no nationwide public media service,” she said.
Since fiscal year 1991, Congress has consistently funded the interconnection with a separate, periodic appropriation. Doing so gives CPB “the agility to contract for incremental upgrades as innovations in technology are realized and costs come down,” she said.