The Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets $75 million in emergency funds in the $2 trillion coronavirus bill that passed the Senate late Wednesday night.
The money is to keep up facilities of noncommercial TV and radio stations and to help stations, particularly rural ones, keep the lights on and the transmitters going in what is expected to be a lean time for pledges and corporate sponsorships, which constitute about 85% of noncom budgets.
The money goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the independent agency that hands out the government portion of noncom funding, and remains available through Sept. 30, 2021, though hopefully the pandemic has been resolved before that.
Here is the specific bill language.
"For an additional amount for "Corporation for Public Broadcasting," $75,000,000, to remain available through September 30, 2021, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for fiscal stabilization grants to public telecommunications entities, with no deduction for administrative or other costs of the Corporation, to maintain programming and services and preserve small and rural stations threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues: Provided, that such amount is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 16 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985."
It was not clear from the bill language how the funds would be divided among TV and radio stations if there is more need than money.
"While even $75 million only begins to address these unprecedented needs while private revenues are plummeting, we are grateful for the broad support for this emergency funding for public media among both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate,” said Americas Public Television Stations president Patrick Butler. “We will do our best with the resources we have to serve our country and our fellow citizens in this time of shared crisis.”
CPB was still working out the allocation process and had no comment at press time.
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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.