WASHINGTON—The proposed fiscal year 2021 budget from President Donald Trump calls for the elimination of federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over a two-year period—a bit of news that has become somewhat of an annual tradition under his administration.
As detailed in the proposed budget, CPB would receive $30 million in FY 2021 for “agency close-out costs,” which would help fund facilities costs, personal liabilities and existing contracts. Over the proposed two-year close out, the White House estimates the total close-out costs will be $58 million.
The $30 million would be a decrease of $435 million that CPB received in federal funding in FY 2020.
“CPB funding comprises about 15% of the total amount spent on public broadcasting, with the remainder coming from non-Federal sources, with many large stations raising an even great share,” the budget reads. “This private fundraising has proven durable, negating the need for continued Federal subsidies.”
It claims that PBS and NPR, two of the most recognizable public networks supported by CPB, could makeup any shortfalls by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations and/or members. It also says that since alternative programming to PBS and NPR have grown over the years, the need for publicly funded programming options has decreased.
America’s Public Television Stations’ President and CEO Patrick Butler disagrees with the White House’s position and its attempts to slash CPB’s funding.
“We provide the only preschool education for more than half of America’s children,” Butler said. “We are the backbone of public safety communications networks at the local, state and national levels. And we do more than anyone else to equip America’s citizens for challenging and rewarding work of democracy.”
Butler says he hopes to continue to work with the White House to emphasize how important federal funding for public broadcasting is so that its services can remain free for the public.
Trump has previously proposed similar funding phase outs or entirely eliminating funding for CPB in his budget proposals. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress came to the support of the CPB each time to continue providing its funding. In fact, in FY 2020, the $465 million approved for CPB was the first increase in funding the organization had seen in 10 years.