APTS President Patrick Butler is warning public broadcasters of continued threats to their federal funding this summer as Congress takes up work on appropriations for the next federal budget. During an appearance at the Public Media Business Association conference this morning, Butler recalled a private meeting with a key House Republican from Georgia who opposes federal aid to CPB. Rep. Jack Kingston, chair of the House appropriations subcommittee with oversight over CPB, told Butler that he plans to zero-out CPB funding. “He told me point blank, in January, that he was going to do everything he could to eliminate our funding,” Butler said during a PMBA breakfast meeting at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. Public TV’s top lobbyist expects Kingston to introduce the bill in June. “I’m sure there will be a big zero in his bill for public broadcasting,” he said.
President Obama released his fiscal 2014 federal budget proposal April 10, and recommended $445 million in two-year advance funding for CPB. This is a level amount compared to previous federal funding levels for CPB.
Public television’s strongest case for preserving tax-based support for stations and CPB centers on informing political leaders about the full range of public-service work that stations deliver to local communities, particularly in the field of education, according to the field’s lead advocates in Washington, D.C.
Former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise was honored for his work supporting public media’s educational service. Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a partner in CPB’s ongoing American Graduate project to reduce the drop-out rate among high school students. He also chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Gov. Wise spent 10 years in the U.S. House before serving as West Virginia’s governor from 2001 to 2005. The CPB Thought Leader Award honors U.S. leaders who help pubcasters serve the public in the areas of education, journalism and the arts.
The Association of Public Television Stations handed out Champions of Public Broadcasting awards during its Public Media Summit in Washington, D.C., Feb 24–26, recognizing Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) and Oregon Rep. Greg Walden (R). APTS also gave EDGE Awards to Twin Cities Public Television and New Jersey’s NJTV and recognized individuals with Advocacy Awards. Mikulski, who replaced recently deceased Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been an ardent defender of public broadcasting in the Senate and was a vocal defender of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program before it was eliminated in 2011. As chair of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet, Walden has helped secure federal aid for public broadcasters to help defer costs related to spectrum legislation. As he accepted his award, he told summit attendees that increased competition from cable and digital channels has made public TV less relevant to television viewers, and he suggested that public broadcasters support cuts to government-entitlement programs in order to salvage their own funding.
A radio broadcaster-turned lawmaker who chairs a key House subcommittee with oversight of CPB delivered a pointed critique to public TV station execs about their prospects for preserving federal aid in the 113th Congress. During a Feb. 26 breakfast hosted by the Association of Public Television Stations at the Library of Congress, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden (R) warned a roomful of station executives that they face an uphill battle in rebuilding bipartisan support for the field. Republican views of public broadcasting are colored by negative baggage carried over from the 2010-11 political scandals over NPR, and the notion that increased competition from cable and digital channels has made public TV less relevant to television viewers, Walden said. The event, part of APTS’s annual Public Media Summit, celebrated Walden as a “Champion of Public Broadcasting,” and the lawmaker used the occasion to deliver what APTS President Patrick Butler later called “tough love.”
Walden referred to recommendations of a 2007 Government Accountability Office report on public TV’s financing to make his point.
Representatives from four sectors of the public service community made a case for more partnerships with public television during the opening session of the Association of Public Television Stations’ 2013 Public Media Summit Feb. 24 in Arlington, Va. Jane Oates, assistant secretary of employment and training administration with the U.S. Department of Labor, was the most vocal of the panel as she urged public television to collaborate more with local and state government workforce-training programs as a way of sharing key information to the nation’s legions of unemployed workers. “Think how much better we could do if you joined with us. Everybody listens to you,” Oates said, pointing to the proven workforce-training success of Vegas PBS as an example of what other stations could accomplish.
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is replacing the recently deceased Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she will command the task force of senators that determines federal spending on many endeavors including public broadcasting, Mikulski’s office announced Wednesday.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pledge to defund PBS, which he reiterated during the Oct. 3 televised presidential debate, set off a flurry of advocacy activity by pubcasters working at both the national and local levels. PBS had already spent several months developing its ValuePBS.org site, trumpeting the importance of public TV, and sped up its launch to the day after the debate. Stations sprung into action to alert their viewers and listeners, sending waves of them to the grassroots-advocacy 170 Million Americans website — which has since garnered 50,000 new fans. “Thousands of people are coming to our aid,” particularly on Twitter and Facebook, said Pat Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations advocacy organization.