Public Broadcasting Funded for Fiscal Year 2014

On Saturday, the President signed into law the consolidated fiscal year (FY) 2012 appropriations bill, which provides funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
For listeners and friends of St. Louis Public Radio, this is very good news because it means that Congress has provided  important two-year advance funding for public radio and television totaling $445 million for Fiscal Year 2014.
This is our base funding and will mark the third year in a row that CPB will receive this amount.   The adjacent chart shows the funding trend for CPB over the last ten years.
For public broadcasting to maintain a level-funded two-year advance appropriation in the face of widespread budget cuts across the government is a big victory and a recognition that many in Congress value the contribution public media makes to this country.
In addition, the law provides for funding two-years in advance and is the most important part of the firewall that protects public media’s independence.
Unfortunately, the bill provides no digital funding for public broadcasting.

In our current fiscal year, St. Louis Public Radio will receive more than $428,000 in federal funding, which accounts for less than eight percent of our operating budget.  We use the majority of our federal funds to support our local programming efforts, including our broadcasts of the St. Louis Symphony.

The loss in digital funding coupled with the elimination earlier this year of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) mean that public broadcasting is not immune to funding cuts.   The digital funding for CPB and the PTFP program have both provided millions of dollars in important infrastructure improvements for public broadcasters over the years including helping St. Louis Public Radio upgrade its transmitter for HD Radio and providing a back-up generator for the station at our transmitter site.

In addition, state funding for public media has dropped significantly over the last fours years due to the economic challenges facing state governments across the U.S. From fiscal 2008 through 2012, public broadcasting stations in 24 states have lost a total of $85 million in financial support from state governments, according to a study released last week by Free Press, a progressive media-reform group.

The report, On the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Mediacompares the reductions in states’ general ledger funds with huge cuts imposed on pubcasters over four years.

As the FY 2012 process concludes, work in Congress will begin after the holidays on FY 2013 funding requests, which become even more complicated with across-the-board cuts resulting from the lack of a deficit reduction deal by the congressional “super committee” earlier this fall.

Public broadcasting represents a little more than one-hundredth of one percent of the federal budget. Public broadcasting costs about $1.35 per citizen per year in America, a tiny percentage of comparable figures, among them $31.13 in Canada, $67.34 in Japan, and $85.52 in Great Britain.  These funds leverage significant local support from communities across the country.

For more information on the importance of federal funding for public broadcasting, visit the 170 Million Americans web site.

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About Tim Eby

General Manager of St. Louis Public Radio.

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