Protect My Public Media

Jul 28, 2013

  July 28, 2013

This is from the Manager’s Desk.   One of KGOU’s funding sources is the annual grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Over the last several years, the CPB grant has been about 9% of KGOU’s income.

CPB supports all the public radio and television stations and these grants have been an effective public – private partnership because they are geared to match private contributions to the local station.

Last fiscal year, local stations absorbed about a 5% cut in our federal grants because of the sequester.  This year will see more cuts if the sequester remains in place, and some elected officials have proposed cutting all the funds.  The loss of CPB funding will affect local public radio and television stations, and will place the burden for funding even more directly on listeners.

How large is CPB’s budget?

CPB is funded three years in advance by the U.S. Congress.  The FY13 appropriation to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was $460 but the sequester reduced that amount to $421.9 million. Of the appropriation, CPB uses only 5% for administrative costs and 95% is distributed to stations and program producers.

This averages to about $1.35 per American each year and is roughly one-hundredth of one percent (0.01%) of the federal budget.

$445 million has been appropriated for FY14 but that does not include the effects of the FY13 sequester reductions or any additional FY14 sequester reduction percentages. 

Public radio and television have had this grant as part of our funding mix since the beginning of our industry.  One of the main reasons is because all stations are labeled by the Federal Communications Commission as “non-commercial.”   That is, the stations are not permitted to sell their air time for commercial announcements.  The federal funding was a way to help sustain public broadcasting because of those restrictions. 

Many studies over the past years have documented that relaxing the rules regarding commercial announcements and other schemes would not adequately replace the federal funding.  Here’s a link to the latest study.

A second rationale for federal funding was that the federal dollars were to be used as challenge grants, in a way, to help encourage local listeners and viewers to contribute.  The more a local station raised in local support, the larger the federal grant.  In this way, CPB wanted to ensure that a local station was serving a valid local interest before investing federal dollars into its operation.

The result is that public broadcasting stations leverage every $1.00 of federal funding invested to raise an additional $6.00 on their own.

How KGOU uses the CPB grant

The annual grant is called the “Community Service Grant.”  Under the terms of the CPB grant, at least 25% of it must be used for “more-than-local” programming. Traditionally, we have used the entire grant all for national programming for ease of accounting and to meet the requirement.

Last fiscal year, in FY13, KGOU received $140,308 in our CPB grant or about 41% of all our national programming costs, which included National Public Radio, Public Radio International, American Public Media, Native Voice One, StarDate and more.  Of that, about $234,000 was spent on the bill from NPR.

Without the federal funding, KGOU and the other public radio and television stations will have to rely on private donations even more in order to maintain the high quality of programming that you have come to expect.

What is the latest?

The U.S. House and Senate are now working on developing various appropriation bills in advance of the deadline on September 30, 2013 for FY14 that begins on October 1st.  In the House, the appropriations committee with responsibility for funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is expected to introduce language to fully defund CPB for FY14. Articles about this are here and here.

There clearly will be much more discussion on the larger budget issues as the House and Senate work on funding bills.  The Senate has recommended $445 million for CPB, and President Obama recommended $451 million for FY14.

What to do?

If you wish to know more and want to support continued federal funding of public broadcasting, check out “Protect My Public Media.” This is a partnership of public television and radio stations throughout the country, national organizations, producers and you - the millions of Americans we serve every day. 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.  Thanks! From the Manager's Desk, I'm Karen Holp.