House votes to restore PTFP funding

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The House voted 259 to 157 last night to pass the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill. It contains the $20 million for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program that had been in doubt. “This is a major victory for the public television community and represents a significant step toward the restoration of funding for local stations in this difficult economic environment,” the Association for Public Television Stations said in a statement. PTPF funding has dwindled from $43.2 million in fiscal 2003 to $18.8 million in fiscal 2008. During its February Capitol Hill Day, APTS lobbied hard for PTFP money, saying the decline created a “critical backlog” of applications outnumbering grants 2 to 1. Now it’s the Senate’s turn. If the bill it passes differs from the House version, a conference committee will work to reconcile the differences and the full Congress will vote on that final bill.