CPB CEO says Trump's budget would 'devastate' public broadcasting

Image: Executive Office of the President of the United States

President Donald Trump’s new budget is calling for defunding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a move that would “devastate” public media, said CPB CEO Patricia Harrison.

“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,” said Harrison in a statement.

Trump’s new budget proposes to cut CPB funding that covers PBS and NPR as well as individual stations. The CPB’s funding request asked for $445 million advance appropriation for fiscal year 2019. Of that, $298 million is allocated for public television station and programming grants, accounting for $222.8 million in direct station grants and $74.5 million in national television programming grants.

"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,” said Harrison, adding that the CPB will work with Trump’s administration in raising awareness that the decision to cut CPB funding “begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of this essential national service.”

Trump’s budget has also called for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, a move that has also drawn protest from programmers. The NEA helps fund many programs featured on PBS and NPR.

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Independent programmer Ovation TV called the proposal to cut funding for the NEA “a new low point for the current Administration.”

“By ignoring the voices of millions of Americans, and focusing on the ill-informed advice of organizations like The Heritage Foundation, President Trump has taken an ax to one of the best investments the federal government makes year in and year out. Rather than the short-sighted point of view that the arts are a frivolity or a luxury not worthy of federal funding, this Administration fails to recognize the well-documented fact that arts and culture industries generate $22.3 billion in revenue to local, state and federal governments every year, and create 4.13 million full-time jobs, generating $86.68 billion in household income. The arts are also one of America's biggest exports. So, if the contention is that eliminating the NEA and NEH budgets are somehow going to save the federal government money, then someone needs to check the batteries in their calculator. According to 21st century economists, the arts are a valuable commodity for U.S. consumers, as well as a strong contributor to America's economic vitality," said Liz Janneman, executive vice president of network strategy for Ovation TV, in a statement.

The Heritage Foundation has argued that in lieu of federal funding for the CPB, PBS and NPR could compensate by raising more revenue for corporate sponsors, foundations and members.