The leader of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting slammed President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, which calls for the eventual elimination of federal funding for the agency that supports public radio and TV, including PBS and NPR.
“Americans place great value on having universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services, provided commercial free and free of charge,” Patricia Harrison, CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said Monday. “Since there is no viable substitute for federal funding that would ensure this valued service continues, the elimination of federal funding to CPB would at first devastate, and then ultimately destroy public media’s ability to provide early childhood content, life-saving emergency alerts, and public affairs programs.”
The head of PBS, Paula Kerger, also protested Trump's proposal to eliminate federal funding for the CPB.
“Public broadcasting has earned bipartisan congressional support over the years thanks to the value we provide to taxpayers," she said. "PBS, our 350 member stations and our legions of local supporters will continue to remind leaders in Washington of the significant benefits the public receives in return for federal funding, a modest investment of about $1.35 per citizen per year, which include school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, public safety communications and lifelong learning."
Trump’s budget request for 2019 calls for Congress to allocate $15.5 million for the CPB, down from $495 million the agency was allocated in 2017. The budget requests $15 million for the CPB in 2020.
The money is designed to assist the agency with conducting an “orderly transition away from federal funding.”
The White House contends grants from the CPB represent a “small share of the total funding” for PBS and NPR, which also receive private donations to remain on air.
“Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members,” the White House said in its justification for the budget cuts. “In addition, alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially since CPB was first established in 1967, greatly reducing the need for publicly funded programming options.”
Harrison praised the public media that the CPB funds as a boon to all Americans, regardless of where they live, and said such media is “made possible by a uniquely American, entrepreneurial, public-private partnership.”
“Federal funding is the foundation of that partnership and a recognition of the proven benefits delivered to the American people through public media,” Harrison said. “The partnership continues with local stations doing their part, working with their communities to complete the funding process.”
Trump’s proposed 2018 budget also slashed funding for the CPB, leaving $30.45 million for the agency in 2018 and eliminating federal funding altogether for 2019.