CPB Funding Survives

After threats and legislative attempts by Republicans to
zero out CPB funding, the continuing
resolution that passed the House and Senate Thursday keeps the dollars flowing
to noncom stations.

The CR, which funds the government through September,
forward funds CPB through 2013 at the
annual 2012 figure of $445 million, preserving the two-year forward
funding mechanism Republicans had targeted.

Also preserved was a $27.2 million Ready To Learn program
funded through the Department of Education, though the final decision on
that funding remains at the discretion at DOE.

The Association for Public Television Stations gave a
shout-out to over half a million e-mails and thousands of calls from supporters
opposing the Republican-backed phase-out, as well as backing from the president
and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

But CPB did not
emerge unscathed. The legislation cuts funding in other areas, including $30
million of $36 million for expanding digital technologies; $20 million from
zeroing out the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, a Commerce grant
that funds noncom TV and radio equipment; and cutting $50 million by zeroing
out public radio interconnection and station fiscal stabilization funds.

"The elimination of the Public Telecommunications
Facilities Program (PTFP) presents real challenges to public broadcasting
stations' commitment to maintain reliable service to all Americans,"
said APTS in a statement.

CPB's funding
appeared in real jeopardy following a confluence of circumstances including the
tanked economy, Republican's historic targeting of noncom funding as
subsidizing their liberal critics, NPR's
firing of commentator Juan Williams, embarrassing statements by NPR fund-raisers
as part of a sting operation, and the recommendation of the co-chairs of the
President's bipartisan fiscal reform committee to phase-out funding as one of
many tough cuts.

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.