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CPB: No public funds for paying services

Public TV stations cannot use Congressionally-granted funds to support any
new digital services that run commercials, the Corporation for Public
Broadcasting's board of directors agreed late last week.

In October, the FCC ruled that public TV stations could
fund new digital services - such as multicast channels or datacasting - by
soliciting commercial sponsorships or running advertisements.

Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) earlier this month raised concerns with the FCC about the ruling, saying it brings "creeping commercialism" into the public broadcasting system.

In response to those concerns, the CPB board on Friday held a conference call by telephone and passed a resolution that restates what the law already says: public TV stations cannot use public money to help fund services that have commercial backing.

"While the board recognizes the need for stations to develop additional funding sources, the law explicitly prohibits stations from using CPB funds to support any commercial or advertiser-supported services," said Katherine Anderson, CPB's new board chair, in a statement.

The CPB board also recognized that Congress and the FCC expect public broadcasting to remain mostly non-commercial and publicly funded.

The resolution did not appease at least one lawmaker.

"The fact that they are clarifying how the bookkeeping will be done doesn't change the fact that they are commercializing what is supposed to be a non-commercial asset," said a Markey aide. - Paige Albiniak