House and Senate spending bills propose level support for CPB, but no interconnect funds

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Photo: Drewspr00 via Wikimedia Commons

(Photo: Drewspr00 via Wikimedia Commons)

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees this week approved $445 million in funding for CPB, but both proposals lacked earmarked funding of $40 million for PBS’s planned V6 Interconnection project.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill Thursday that includes $445 million in advance funding for CPB and $25.7 million for PBS’s Ready to Learn program. The House Appropriations Committee approved its spending bill Wednesday.

“The committee’s vote today represents an extraordinary endorsement of public television’s work by both the Republican majority and the Democratic minority,” Association of Public Television Stations CEO Patrick Butler said in a prepared statement. “This action signals the restoration of broad bipartisan support for public broadcasting in the Senate, as did yesterday’s approval of $445 million for CPB by the House Appropriations Committee’s Republican majority.”

The funding is for fiscal year 2018. CPB receives advance funding to help ensure that public media’s production pipeline is undisturbed.

However, both bills left out $40 million that PBS has sought to advance its planned V6 Interconnection project, an upgrade to the current satellite interconnection system. V6 would connect all PBS stations with a two-way, high-speed fiber-optic network.

CPB had sought $40 million for V6 for fiscal year 2016, followed by $50 million, $55 million and $52 million in following years.

“We remain hopeful that critical interconnection funding will be provided by Congress as the appropriations process moves forward,” Butler said in the statement.

In addition, Ready to Learn funding was not included in the House Appropriations Committee’s spending bill. CPB CEO Patricia Harrison said in a statement that the organization would also work to ensure that the final spending bill will include funding for Ready to Learn and the interconnection upgrade.

“We look forward to working with Members of the House and Senate as we affirm the value of the early education program, Ready to Learn, as well as the importance of the public television interconnection system, which makes public television possible,” Harrison said.

Both bills will now go to their respective full floors for a vote, and a conference committee representing both the House and Senate will work up a draft of the bill for a final vote.