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Senate Appropriations Recommends Level Funding for Noncoms

U.S. Capitol
(Image credit: Capitol)

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.