Article Published: 01 Mar 2020
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
We urge Congress to...
Fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at no less than $495 million.
Supporting Public Broadcasting as Part of Our National Arts Infrastructure
The Value for Americans
- Public broadcasting, which is accessible to all Americans, reaches more than half of all Americans every month, and the audience is growing. Over a year, 80% of all U.S. television households—and nearly 200 million people—watch PBS. 42 million people listen weekly to public radio.
- CPB supports more than 1,500 locally owned public stations including 359 public television stations, 1,162 public radio stations, thousands of online services, and in-person community events.
- Public broadcasting is local. Stations are locally licensed and governed, locally programmed, and locally staffed. In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free, locally managed news, arts, and cultural programming.
- Local public stations air music and arts programming that is not available on commercial radio and television, preserving and advancing America’s unique cultural heritage.
- Notably, public radio features diverse genres and traditions that are less commonly found on commercial stations, including classical, folk, bluegrass, jazz, and blues.
- Public radio stations are also often the first to air emerging, independent artists in the earliest stages of their careers.
- Local public stations also have long standing partnerships with local music venues and performing arts societies, helping to extend the reach of artists in communities throughout the country. Local public television and radio stations are an integral part of the cultural infrastructure that supports the music economy in America today.
- If CPB funding is reduced, hundreds of America’s rural communities would lose their best (and sometimes only) source for arts and culture programming, many of whom might never have the opportunity to experience arts and culture programming otherwise.
Funding for America's Public Broadcasting
- The federal portion of the average public station’s revenue is approximately 17.5%. For smaller stations serving rural, minority, and other underserved communities, CPB’s investment can represent as much as 40% of their budget. Stations leverage this seed money to attract investments from state and local governments, universities, businesses, and their local viewers and listeners. For every federal dollar invested through CPB, stations raise more than $6.00 on their own. The federal investment in public broadcasting is a tiny portion of the federal budget—only one hundredth of one percent (0.01%).
- If federal funding were to disappear, stations would have to raise approximately 200% more in private donations to replace the federal investment. This is because CPB, in addition to direct payment to stations, pays for the system’s technical backbone, copyright and other fees, and major investments in national content from which all stations benefit.
- If funding is cut, Americans would pay a major price—losing enriching, thought-provoking content that broadens people’s horizons, introducing citizens to new artists, cultural programming, and ideas.
- Most of the funding through CPB goes directly to local public broadcast stations in the form of Community Service Grants.
- 95% of CPB's appropriation goes directly to content development, community services, and other local station and system needs. Only 5% is allocated to administrative costs—an exceptionally low overhead rate compared to other nonprofits.
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