It’s fairly common these days to read about legislation being introduced which would eliminate funding for public broadcasting from the federal budget. Because of conversations around taxpayer dollars being used to support public broadcasting, we asked our listeners if they knew how much tax funding for public broadcasting amounts to per citizen, per year.
100% of respondents answered $0.72, which isn’t correct, but is on the right track. It’s actually about $1.35 annually per citizen. That adds up to roughly $445M in appropriations (about .01% of the federal budget), and that money is managed and distributed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)—which was created when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Its mission is to ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content and telecommunications services.
Let’s unpack a little more where all of that funding goes. The lion's share of CPB funds goes to locally-owned and operated public broadcasting stations in the form of grants, for which stations must apply, and for which they must fulfill rigorous public service requirements. Most stations would fulfill these requirements regardless, because we believe in the communities we serve and believe that our commitment to serving those communities is vital. While you may see messages like “Defund NPR,” it’s important to note that less than 1% of NPR’s funding comes from the CPB.
One listener said, "My understanding is that CPB funding is not directly provided but is also won through grant applications," which is correct!
The public media system consists of nearly 1,500 locally-owned and operated television and radio stations, reaching 98% of Americans. In rural, Native American, and Island communities, these are often the only local media outlets. While CPB funding is only about 7% of WFDD’s budget, it is still important in that it allows us to commit to initiatives that help us extend our service in ways that further connect our community or train the next generation of public radio journalists. It is a larger source of support for stations in rural and underserved communities, making it vital to keeping the public informed. The loss of support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) would significantly affect these communities, as stations serving these regions would be forced to severely cut programming, or worse, shutter completely.
Part of compliance with CPB grant requirements includes filing an extensive report on our community service activities. You can read past reports on Local Content & Services here. And because it’s always worth a watch, here’s a video of Mr. Rogers testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications in 1969 in support of funding for public broadcasting.