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Support for WERU comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting...

What is public media?

Public media is a system and network of non-profit, non commercial, public television and

public community radio stations operated predominantly by trained volunteers. Public media

entities are also defined by their common mission and purpose under the banner of


Today’s current public media system began to take shape nearly 50 years ago, with the

passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and subsequent creation of the Corporation

for Public Broadcasting. The system now reaches more than 98 percent of the U.S. population

with free programming and services. Public media creates and distributes content that is for,

by and about Americans of all diverse backgrounds; and services that foster dialogue

between the American people and the stations that serve them. In addition to providing free

high-quality, educational programming for children and families, the arts, and award winning

current affairs programming, public media stations provide life-saving emergency alert

services. In a world where there are numerous outlets for information, public media continues

to be America’s most trusted institution for news and educational programming



Where does the investment in public media come from?

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is the steward of the federal government’s

investment in public broadcasting passed by Congress via the Public Broadcasting Act of

1967. (

CPB is largest single source of funding for public radio, television, and related online and mobile services.

CPB is funded through the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education

in separate appropriations bill. The bill as a separate entry under the “related Agencies”.

(Source: Congressional Research report prepared by Members of Committees of Congress,

June 14, 2016.


How much money is it?

CPB’s appropriation for FY 2017 is $445 million. If Congress makes no changes to CPB's

authorizing legislation and fully funds our request for a $445 million advance appropriation for

FY 2019. (Source:

The bill provides an advance appropriation of $445 million for CPB for fiscal year 2018, which is the same level of advance

funding provided in the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and the budget request.


The appropriation for CPB is determined in the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human

Services, Education, and related agencies. Representative Tom Cole (R) from Oklahoma

chairs the committee. The overall appropriation for that committee is $163 billion. $445

million to CPB, $147 million to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), $147 million to the

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). CPB, NEA, NEH together equal $741 million,

less than .02% of the federal budget, $1.35 cost to each taxpayer for the entire year. (Source:

To put the numbers in perspective, the New York Times says the amount is considerably “less

than one-tenth of 1 percent of the United States’ annual federal spending.” (Source:



Are there bills in the pipeline for defunding CPB?

Representative Doug Lamborn (R) of Colorado has introduced two pieces of legislation, one to

eliminate funding for CPB and one to prohibit the use of federal funds to buy programming

from or pay membership dues to NPR. (Source:

See also:

A “skinny“ federal budget released by the Trump Administration proposes eliminating all CPB

funding. A more detailed federal budget will be released later in the spring. (Source:

It is based in part on the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for a balanced budget, which calls for the

elimination of appropriation for CPB, NEA, and NEH. (Source: Blueprint for Balance Federal

Budget for 2017, page 86.

Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), made

the following statement regarding the President’s proposed elimination of federal funding for

public media: “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have

universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services.

The elimination of federal funding to CPB would initially devastate and ultimately destroy

public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our

history, and promoting civil discussions – for Americans in both rural and urban communities.

“Public media is one of America’s best investments. At approximately $1.35 per citizen per

year, it pays huge dividends to every American. From expanding opportunity, beginning with

proven children’s educational content to providing essential news and information as well as

ensuring public safety and homeland security through emergency alerts, this vital investment

strengthens our communities. It is especially critical for those living in small towns and in

rural and underserved areas.

“Viewers and listeners appreciate that public media is non-commercial and available for free

to all Americans. We will work with the new Administration and Congress in raising

awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media

system itself and the end of this essential national service.” (Source:


A Continuing Resolution (CR) was signed by former President Obama 12/9/16 to include 2

year forward funding for CPB. It cannot be rescinded but the committee can alter it. (Source:

extension-four-immigration) (Source: (Source:


What is distinctive about public media?

Public media was founded for the purpose of education. As such, it was determined to be one

of the nation’s core methods for dispersing a variety of children’s teaching, history, arts and

more in a manner that was intended to tap into Americans’ love for television and radio.

Like schools and libraries, public television and radio were historically provided as venues free

of commercials. The FCC designates a full class of television and radio as non-commercial in

nature, and for which commercials are expressly forbidden and subject to penalties in the

event of violation. (Source:


What is distinctive about community media?

Community media organizations are a sub-set within non-commercial public broadcasting

that in that most of the programming content is designed and created by local trained

volunteers. These are locally based, locally focused community development organizations

and individuals that use non-commercial radio as their outlet to build community.

Community media is focused on community involvement. As such, its trainings and other

education efforts represent important contributions in local areas. Volunteers get free to

low-cost training in digital editing, public speaking, time management and leadership. For

students, these sorts of learning avenues might not otherwise be available in their respective


Like public media, these organizations convey arts, culture, languages and other educational

programming. they differ notably in staffing and programming composition, which is mostly

based on volunteer efforts.


What are public media's values?

Fundamentally, non-commercial media, both public and community, are united in key ways.

First and foremost, our standard of service is rooted in education through culture, journalism

and conversation. In addition, we seek to bring together communities of many ideas, beliefs

and backgrounds. Finally, non-commercial media seeks to be an essential source in

communities by providing vital information and dialogue and strengthening communities.


Why is public media an essential service for the citizenry?

It is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and

television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational, and

cultural purposes. (See Declaration Articles from the Congressional Public Broadcasting Act,

1967. (Source:

The United States has long legacy of infrastructure investment by our country and by

taxpayers in areas that sparsely populated and or under resourced. For example, rural electric

cooperatives around the country are essential. Without that vast tracks of this nation would

not have electricity. These cooperatives exist because, it is not a winning business

proposition to provide basic services in these areas that are where there’s a lot of space and a

not a lot of people.

Those spaces are also the spaces where our natural resources come from: our food, clean

water, air, wilderness and unhindered ecosystem. These communities are the stewards of

these resources. And so in order for us to have those resources so that urban populations can

have higher concentrations of jobs and wealth, we have to have compassion and support for

the people who steward and live in those communities. That’s what CPB’s CSG grants really

do is to make sure there’s universal access to communication.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, remarked signing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 into law

“I believe the time has come to stake another claim in the name of all the people, stake a

claim based upon the combined resources of communications. I believe the time has come to

enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the

cause of education.” (Source:


What do we lose without it?

The loss of CPB funding will affect community media stations in unique ways. With 180

member stations, 65% identify as rural stations. There are 68 member stations that receive

CPB funding via Community Service Grants (CSG), the CPB’s primary mechanism for

dispersing funds into these public media industry and micro communities.

These stations are disproportionately affected by the loss of the CSG grant as they represent

30-50% of their operating budget. For example: The impact at

KVNF community radio in the small rural town of Paonia Colorado, with a population of 1,451, would be a big hit and

difficult to recover or offset.

These organizations rely on the infrastructure funding. In public media, the business model is

listener support. How to you do that in an area that doesn’t have an exponentially growing

population? Or hundreds of thousands of people to tap into if you just up your development

effort? Without support, outlets vanish and communities are harmed irreparably.

What else does CPB do for media organizations?

Federal support has covered the capital costs of network interconnection since the start of

the satellite era (1997-), promoting universal access, technology advancement, and efficient

shared planning for long-term needs.

CPB negotiates and pays for copyrights royalties on behalf of all public broadcasting stations,

dramatically reducing transaction costs for both rights holders and stations. CPB plays a

similar role in licensing digital broadcast technology for public radio stations, making possible

multiple HD channels. CPB uses the power of productivity of aggregated funds to invest at

scale programming innovation, organizational development, and other areas that advance the

field. CPB helps support the infrastructure of essential services: emergency alert and

necessary local information such as traffic, road, weather, and police reports. Transistor radio

is the last bastion of mass communications in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Television will not work without electricity. (Source: Station Resource Group,

Sally Kane, CEO of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, points out that in the

areas where these small stations broadcast, cell phone coverage is inconsistent, low or

nonexistent; and mobile or broadband internet service is difficult to get or not available at all.

The United States has long legacy of infrastructure investment by our country and by

tax payers in areas that sparsely populated and or under resourced. (Source:


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