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Federal Support for Public Television Increases

John Lawson, President and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), expressed his appreciation for Congress’ continued support of public television, with total federal appropriations in FY 2005 rising more than two percent.

“Everyone knows how tight our current fiscal environment is--with scarce federal resources being committed to the war on terror and the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, all non-military and non-homeland security discretionary spending is impacted. In these tight budgetary times, it is indeed significant that Congress maintained, let alone increased, the level of federal support.”

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 1,300-page bill totals $388.4 billion and, to avoid a threatened veto, holds overall growth in domestic spending to less than one percent.
In order to hold the overall growth in domestic spending at this level and still fund selected White House and congressional initiatives, all programs and projects in the omnibus bill are subject to an across-the-board cut of 0.83 percent. Some well-known programs and agencies, including the EPA, were cut even further.

Even with this rescission, 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, pre-rescission funding for the new satellite system to interconnect local stations was $40 million, up from $9.9 million the previous year.

Pre-rescission funding through three infrastructure programs remained strong, with Congress allocating $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 pre-rescission funding levels of $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.

Lawson concluded: “These impressive funding levels set by Congress are clear victories for our station community, and we thank the APTS members across the country who actively work with us to make our case for federal support to Congress. Given the challenges that we face in the new fiscal year, we will have to work even harder to sustain the achievements we new enjoy.”