Congress approves funding for Ready To Learn, CPB and interconnection

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Public broadcasting got everything it asked for in the federal 2016 budget that Congress approved in a swift, bipartisan act on Friday.

The 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill included $40 million for “public broadcasting interconnection upgrades,” which could include PBS’s planned interconnection project, also called V6. Lawmakers in both chambers had left that funding out of earlier appropriations bills.

It also provided $445 million for CPB and $25.7 million for Ready To Learn, the Department of Education program that supports public TV’s children’s service.

The congressional action resolved public media funding issues that had been up in the air for months. A House bill approved earlier this year, for example, eliminated RTL’s appropriation, differing with the Senate over the program.

The $445 million for CPB, which had support in both chambers earlier in the budget process, provides flat funding for fiscal 2018, following the tradition of advance appropriations.

Ready To Learn’s prospects for restored funding were bolstered this month by the approval of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which included a reauthorization for the program backing educational media presented by PBS Kids.

“We are greatly encouraged by the growing bipartisan support in Congress for local public broadcasting stations and we look forward to the President signing this bill into law,” said Association of Public Television Stations President Patrick Butler in a statement.

With congressional approval Dec. 18, the entire $1.1 trillion Omnibus Appropriations Bill went to President Obama to be signed into law.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated that $40 million had been approved exclusively for PBS’s V6 interconnection project.