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House Appropriations OKs Full Funding for CPB

The House Appropriations Committee has approved full funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting of $445 million of fiscal year 2021, plus another $20 million for interconnection and other technical services.

CPB, which distributes federal funding for noncommercial TV and radio, is forward funded to try to insulate it as much as possible from politics.

The funding was part of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Funding draft bill that was approved Wednesday (July 11) by a vote of 30 to 32.

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"This bill is one that supports and benefits all Americans,” Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Subcommittee chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla..) said.

Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee also approved level funding for public broadcasting.

President Donald Trump has been been pushing Congress to phase out funding for noncommercial broadcasting, so it is another defeat on that front for the President.

Patricia Harrison, a former top Republican party official and now CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has pushed back strongly on the President's efforts to zero out funding.

Last July, when the LHHS recommended full funding, Cole didn't sound like someone who wanted to axe the funding for CPB--when Harrison was co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, he was chief of staff.

Cole said at the time: "If you look over a 50-year [CPB] history it is a pretty impressive record of enriching the content of public dialog, opening doors to communities that don't often have these kind of opportunities and living within what is by any measure at the federal level a comparatively modest budget, which you manage to leverage and multiply many times over."

“The broad bipartisan support on the committee for these funds constitutes an encouraging vote of confidence in public television’s work in education, public safety and civic leadership in hundreds of American communities," said Patrick Butler, president of America's Public Television Stations. "These federal funds are essential to local public television stations’ public service missions and to ensuring that everyone everywhere in America has access to these vital services."

He also pointed out that the bill also includes level ($27.7 million) funding for the Department of Education's Ready to Learn program, which uses public TV to promote early childhood education.

John Eggerton
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.