Budget Bill Preserves CPB, NEA Funding

The Senate Thursday passed the House-passed omnibus spending bill, which funds the government through September 2017 and includes funding for noncommercial TV and arts programs President Donald Trump wanted to gut. It now goes to the President for his signature.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was fully funded at $445 million, while the National Endowment for the Arts even got a $2 million raise to $150 million.

The President's threatened cuts were always just that, since it is Congress that signs off on them. But Republicans have been critical of funding for both in the past, and even some Democrats under former President Barack Obama said CPB cuts could be on the table.

But backers of arts programming were not ready to fire off the fireworks just yet.

“Thousands of our talented members spoke up and told Congress in no uncertain terms that the NEA is about jobs," said Kate Shindle, president of Actors' Equity, of the NEA funding. "Together, we’ve won the first battle but the fight is far from over. While the NEA will remain funded for now, Congress is already looking toward the 2018 budget. When members of Congress take up next year’s budget in the days ahead, we will be ready to remind them that the NEA supports middle-class arts jobs in small and regional theatres all across the country.”

That caution was echoed by Liz Janneman, executive VP of network strategy, Ovation TV, and president of the Ovation Foundation.

"Though it is good news that NEA funding for the rest of 2017 is secure for the moment, it does not mean that this cannot change, nor is it any indication of what the fate of the NEA will be next year," she said. "This was a conciliatory measure to address log jam around federally funded programs that are up for elimination in the budget process and avoid the government shutdown. This does not give any of us who have been fighting for the arts reason to sigh with relief. There's still a fight ahead of us. Of that we can be certain. Ovation continues its efforts to rally support for the arts through its Stand for the Arts alliance.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.