Senate Panel Doubles CPB Digital Appropriation

A Senate appropriations subcommittee recommended $50 million for Fiscal Year 2003 for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help with the digital buildout, doubling the $25 million appropriation for 2002.

The funds are for digital program production, development and distribution.

The subcommittee noted that 76 of 356 public stations are now broadcasting digital signals. The rest face a May 1, 2003 deadline to begin.

"The level of support for digital TV conversion was significant," Association of Public Television Stations President John Lawson said of the subcommittee action. He noted that the subcommittee's action came amid pressure from the White House to keep increases in all areas to a minimum.

Another public television funding request, through a Commerce Department program, is also pending.

The appropriation still must pass through the full Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate before going to the House. Final action on the budget is expected this fall.