Pubcasters Get Their Funds

When public broadcasters saw the $2.2 trillion federal budget proposed by the White House for Fiscal Year 2004, alarms went off: It slashed funding for the Commerce Department's Public Television Facilities Program, which has helped stations with their infrastructure needs since 1962. The proposal also called for a $15 million cut in funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

But a House-Senate conference report on the budget Feb.12 changed that, keeping 2004 funding close to 2003 levels and providing an additional $48.7 million for the digital conversion.

Also, the conference report calls for funding levels in 2005 that the Association for Public Television Stations calls "tremendous victories."

"We were tasked with having to make a very compelling case to Congress to maintain our FY '03 funding levels in the midst of very difficult times with competing budget priorities," APTS said.

The budget still requires the approval of both houses of Congress and the president's signature, a process that could take months.