President’s budget seeks additional $20 million for DTV education

If President Bush gets his way, the FCC will get another $20 million in 2008 for DTV education. The current FCC allocation is $2.5 million in 2008.

The administration included the FCC’s request for the money to help it get viewers ready for the transition to occur on Feb. 17, 2009. The FCC asked for a total of $338.9 million for fiscal-year 2009, which begins in September 2008.

The funds would be used for “producing and distributing consumer-oriented educational materials; using news media to spread information through media tours and public-service announcements; attending and presenting at events and conferences representing a wide array of consumers; leveraging the Internet to disseminate information; coordinating with state, local, and tribal entities; and distribution of direct mailings to targeted groups.”

Rep. John Dingell, D-MI, the House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, said the money is not nearly enough. “I am concerned about the size of the increase,” he said. “When added to the original $5 million that was allotted [to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration] by the Republican Congress that enacted this program, this is far too little to educate a nation of 300 million people. We should not be attempting this transition on the cheap.”

However, the Bush administration has proposed cutting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB) appropriation in half in 2009. Beyond that, the cuts would become even greater.

In the new fiscal year 2009 budget, the CPB appropriation for 2009 would be cut from $400 million to $200 million, and to $200 million in 2010 from $420 million, and no advance appropriation would be made for 2011.

The CPB is the independent organization created by Congress to disburse the government appropriation that represents about 15 percent of noncommercial broadcasting’s funding. CPB president Patricia Harrison called the cuts “draconian.”

John Lawson, who heads the Association of Public Television Stations, noted that this is the eighth year in a row that this president has tried to cut Public Broadcasting. Each year Congress has overrode his request.