Public Media Funding - FY 2019 & Beyond

Feb 21, 2018

On Monday, February 12, 2018, the Trump Administration sent a full budget proposal to Congress for Fiscal Year 2019. Just as in FY 2018, the proposal calls for the elimination of federal funding for public media. This is just the first step in a budget process that typically takes months to wind its way through Capitol Hill. Ultimately, Congress will make the final decisions on continued annual investment in the public broadcasting system. At NHPR, we will continue to track developments around public media funding and post appropriate updates online or through our NHPR social media accounts.

Members of the public and supporters of public media have asked what a loss of funding could mean for us and for other public broadcasters here in New Hampshire.

To answer these questions, and with the help of our public media colleagues, we’ve created the following primer:

[Take action now: Don’t need to read the primer to know you want to speak up about the potential loss of federal funds? All you have to do is click this link to learn more, share why public media matters to you, or to take action.]

What is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's role in public broadcasting?

  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is distinct from both NPR and PBS. It’s not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967 with two primary functions: to serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting, and to help fund programming, stations and technology.

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?

  • Federal funding is essential to the mix that supports public broadcasting. The CPB provides seed money and basic operating support to local stations.  Annual federal seed funding amounts to about $1.35 per American. Local stations extend that funding – raising on average six times that amount from other funding sources.
  • Federal funding provides support for public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and people of color.
  • Public media funding allows local stations to reach nearly 99 percent of the population with free, over-the-air services. In many rural and remote areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming.   
  • The CPB covers certain costs that benefit ALL public broadcasters – the satellite system, music rights, new program development and administrative support. Without this support, public radio and TV stations would not be able to create and broadcast the journalism and programming our audience relies on.

What we know today at New Hampshire Public Radio:

  • Funding for the current fiscal year, FY 2018, has already been distributed to the CPB, and first payments have been made to stations, including New Hampshire Public Radio.
  • The appropriation for the CPB is booked two years in advance, which is designed to provide a buffer between funding and changes in the political climate. Therefore, funding has been budgeted for FY 2019 and FY 2020, but has not yet been distributed. These appropriations could be rescinded through an Act of Congress.
  • The administration's current proposal calls for effectively "phasing out" funding for CPB by providing only $15 million each year for FY 2019 and FY 2020.
  • Annual funding for the CPB amounts to about $1.35 per American per year. It has been level for several years.

How much CPB funding does New Hampshire Public Radio receive?

This year, about 10% of New Hampshire Public Radio’s budgeted revenue will come from the CPB in the form of a Community Service Grant, as well as a grant to fund our Civics 101 podcast and related educational efforts, and monies to support our participation in the New England News Collaborative.  In addition, the station relies on the CPB for satellite access, music use rights, and other essential resources.   

What would happen if New Hampshire Public Radio lost CPB funding?

Losing CPB funds would have a noticeable effect on our ability to serve the community with national and local news, programs like The Exchange, Word of Mouth, The Folk Show and Outside/In and podcasts like Civics 101 and others in development.  If the agency was eliminated, we would not only lose the Community Service Grant funds – this year approximately $458,000 – but we would need to raise an additional $370,000 or so to cover the pro-rated share of the expenses that the CPB currently pays for – the satellite system, music rights and more. 

Where can I learn more? And how can I make myself heard?

A strong, diverse base of grassroots advocates is essential to ensuring the retention of federal funding. A great resource is the Protect My Public Media website. There, you can learn more, add your personal story why public media matters to you, take action, and ensure your voice is a part of the debate over public media funding.