Proposed federal budget includes level CPB funding, support for Ready To Learn, new interconnection system

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President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget features good news for public media, including level funding for CPB, an appropriation for public TV’s next interconnection system and continuation of Ready To Learn as a discrete program within the Department of Education.

CPB’s funding, which is approved two years in advance of the regular congressional budget cycle, would stay at the current level of $445 million in fiscal 2018 under the White House’s proposal.

The president’s budget also includes $40 million in fiscal 2016 as the first installment to build PBS’s next-generation interconnection system. The so-called V6 project would install a high-speed fiber network that connects all PBS stations and serves as the primary system for distributing programs and other content among them.

Funding for Ready To Learn, an educational media initiative aimed at at-risk children that provides grants to public TV and other educational media providers, would maintain flat funding of $26 million under the administration’s budget. Ready To Learn is not forward-funded, so the appropriation is recommended for fiscal 2016.

The proposal marks a shift for the White House, which has previously sought to roll RTL’s separate appropriation into the Department of Education’s budget.  

“We feel that the president agreeing to keep the identity of Ready To Learn is very significant,” said Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations. “This is a great vote of confidence for us, from the administration.”

This article has been revised to correct erroneous information about President Obama’s proposed appropriation for CPB in fiscal 2018. The White House recommended flat funding of $445 million, not an increase. Current regrets the error.