CPB reacted Jan. 8 to the attack on journalists at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo by announcing grants totaling $7.5 million to four public media newsrooms.
“Now more than ever it takes so much courage to be a journalist,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in an to public media managers. “To understand that every word you may write, every cartoon you might draw could be your last. The chilling effect this can have may result in stories not told, reports not filed, journalism watered down.” CPB awarded the grants in memory of eight journalists who were killed. The money is given “in support of freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” Harrison said.
CPB is set to receive its full requested appropriation in the spending bill nearing passage in Congress, which will fund the government through next September. The 1,603-page bill, already passed by the House of Representatives, includes the full $445 million appropriation for CPB in fiscal year 2017. CPB traditionally receives its appropriation two years in advance to help facilitate production pipelines. Ready to Learn will also receive its requested funding of $25.7 million if the bill passes as written. No critics of public media have surfaced to call for zeroing out CPB funding, said Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations and public TV’s chief lobbyist on the Hill.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An increasing number of public broadcasters have been contacting the FCC in recent weeks for information about participating in the upcoming spectrum auction, according to commission representatives who spoke at a CPB board meeting here Tuesday. The uptick began after an Oct. 1 report by investment banking firm Greenhill & Co. projected massive paydays for television stations if they sell spectrum to wireless carriers in next year’s congressionally mandated auction. Most pubTV stations, the representatives said, have been asking the FCC for details about transitioning from UHF to VHF channels.
CPB’s Inspector General has recommended that CPB end the crediting of in-kind donations toward stations’ nonfederal financial support after the IG’s office found six stations had overstated NFFS by claiming invalid donations and incorrectly valuing the contributions. The IG’s office said in a Sept. 30 report that it found stations had inappropriately claimed in-kind donations such as venue space, merchandise and services as NFFS, amounting to misclassifying of hundreds of thousands of dollars. “CPB should evaluate the practicality of continuing to allow stations to claim in-kind trades as NFFS given the historical and continuing challenges in valuing trades and documenting that trades were received by the stations,” the report said. CPB uses NFFS to calculate the annual Community Service Grants it doles out to public broadcasters.
CPB will spend $3 million to give public television executives access to expert advice on the upcoming broadcast spectrum auction. The extremely high value of spectrum as appraised by an Oct. 1 FCC report, “Incentive Auction Opportunities for Broadcasters,” created a “considerable amount of confusion” among managers, said Michael Levy, CPB e.v.p. Previous estimates had been much lower. CPB now believes, based on conversations with general managers after the report was released, that “perhaps as many as 50 to 60” of those executives now feel compelled to “revisit their thinking” about whether to participate in the auction, Levy said. The topic generated discussion at a CPB/PBS General Managers Strategy Meeting Monday and Tuesday in Washington, D.C., Levy said.