President’s Budget Threatens WNIT and Beyond

Full disclosure, folks. I am a member of the governing board of directors at WNIT Public Television in South Bend, and also serve on the national board of America’s Public Television Stations. Even if I were not on either of those boards however, I would be sharing with you the very real threat that President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget poses to public media today.

In the grand scheme of things, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gets a ridiculously miniscule amount of federal money from the U.S. budget. It’s what they do with the money to leverage support of hundreds of stations nationwide that makes the attack of a zero budget allocation such a travesty.

My friend and colleague, Patricia Harrison is President & CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CPB. She issued the following statement today 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 – all 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.”

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations, like WNIT in South Bend,  nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

The reality is this: For every $100 of federal spending, public broadcasting receives just a penny.

Another friend and colleague, Patrick Butler, is the President & CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, the national board on which I serve in Washington, D.C. He issued this statement following the President’s budget release today:

“The President’s proposal to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) defies the will of the American people and would devastate the educational and public safety missions of public television they value most.

For $1.35 per citizen per year, America’s public television stations;

  • Get millions of preschool children ready to learn in school and succeed in life.
  • Help two million teachers enlighten 40 million K-12 students in American classrooms every day.
  • Provide the backbone for presidential communications with the American people in times of national emergency, link local law enforcement and first responder agencies with one another and with the public, partner with the US Department of Homeland Security to promote public safety datacasting nationwide, and commit 1 Megabit per second of their bitstream to support the FirstNet federal public safety communications network.
  • Serve as the “C-SPAN” of state governments, host candidate debates at every level of the ballot, and produce 200 daily or weekly series on local public affairs, history and culture.

The Government Accountability Office found that there is no substitute for federal funding in the provision of these services to everyone, everywhere, every day, for free, and the American people, by overwhelming margins, support this work and oppose the elimination of the federal funding that makes it possible.

Survey research conducted in February by the bipartisan team of Linda DiVall at American Viewpoint and Geoff Garin of Hart Research finds that three out of four voters want funding for public television maintained or increased — including 66 percent of those who voted for President Trump. More than 8 in 10 voters are concerned about the loss of our public safety communications capabilities, and 76 percent are concerned about the loss of educational programs and services that help America’s children prepare for success in school.

With our millions of champions across the American heartland, America’s Public Television Stations look now to the Congress to respect the clear will of the American people, to honor the long history of bipartisan support for our work, and to continue the federal government’s investment in our essential missions of education, public safety and civic leadership.”

America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system and providing essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people.

If you share the concerns of these great people, and the concerns of public broadcasters nationwide, you can also lend your voice to the campaign by contacting your Congressional leaders and by signing the petition circulating from Protect My Public Media. Simply click the link below and you can get started right now: