Senate Appropriations Recommends Level Funding for Noncoms

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended level funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting ($465 million), as well as $29 million for the Ready to Learn early education initiative with the Department of Education, and $20 million to continue a noncom tech transmission upgrade.

That is great, said America's Public Television Stations, but not as great as if it had recommended the $50 million increase in CPB's budget that the House approved last summer. CPB provides on average about 15% of station budgets, with the rest coming from corporate donations, sponsorships, and viewer contributions.

“We’re grateful that the Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed to maintain level funding for public broadcasting in a particularly challenging year,” said APTS president Patrick Butler, “and we also appreciate the Committee’s recommendations of $29 million for Ready To Learn and $20 million to continue our interconnection investment. “As negotiations on FY 2021 funding take place, we hope the $50 million increase for CPB approved by the House of Representatives is included in the final appropriations package.”

Butler points out that noncoms have actually lost about $100 million in purchasing power over the past decade of level funding, but no increases.

Butler suggests the added $50 million would be money well spent, hitting all the right policy buttons in outlining its public service opportunities. "[A]s our stations voluntarily adopt the new ATSC 3 Next Gen broadcast standard," he said, "and if we are able to invest in datacasting technology at our stations nationwide, we will have spectrum available to do even more – in telehealth, Smart Cities connections, precision agriculture, national security and other important missions of public service."

The more money there is, the "better and faster" that can be accomplished, he said.

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.