APTS, NPR retooling 170 Million Americans campaign

A grassroots initiative that encourages citizens to lobby Capitol Hill for continued funding to public media is changing its name, revamping its website and updating its social-media outreach. Starting July 15, the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting initiative, which launched in December 2010, will become Protect My Public Media, according to a message sent to supporters July 1. In a statement posted June 14 on the National Friends of Public Broadcasting website, NPR’s Mike Riksen said pubcasting’s Washington representatives have been working over several months to make the campaign “a more capable and vital asset in our efforts to preserve federal funding for public broadcasting stations.”

NPR has been collaborating with the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) to revamp the campaign, he said. Riksen is NPR’s v.p. of policy and representation. Representatives for NPR and APTS declined to discuss the changes with Current.

APTS chief sees renewed battle over CPB aid

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.

Appropriation cuts lead to layoffs and furloughs throughout CPB

CPB has laid off 12 employees and eliminated three vacant positions in a downsizing prompted by the federal budget sequestration and other cuts to its appropriation. The job cuts, announced today, extend across all departments and range from administrative to vice president levels, said Michael Levy, executive v.p. of corporate and public affairs. Taken together, the downsizing reduces CPB’s workforce by 11 percent. CPB will also trim its payroll by requiring all senior vice presidents and executive officers to take one-week furloughs before Sept. 30, the end of CPB’s fiscal year.

CPB appropriations by year

This is CPB’s account of its history of annual appropriations since its founding in more than 40 years ago. Figures shown represent millions of dollars (for example, $5.0 = $5 million). More recent figures may be posted by CPB. Fiscal Year
Admin. Request
House Allocation
Senate Allocation
Appropriation

1969
$9.0
(b)
$6.0
$5.0

1970
$15.0
(b)
$15.0
$15.0

1971
$22.0
(b)
$27.0
$23.0

1972
$35.0
$35.0
$35.0
$35.0

1973
$45.0
$45.0
$45.0
$35.0

1974
$45.0
(b)
$55.0
$50.0

1975
$60.0
$60.0
$65.0
$62.0

1976
$70.0
$78.5
$78.5
$78.5

TQ (a)
$17.0
$17.5
$17.5
$17.5

1977
$70.0
$96.7
$103.0
$103.0

1978
$80.0
$107.1
$121.1
$119.2

1979
$90.0
$120.2
$140.0
$120.2

1980
$120.0
$145.0
$172.0
$152.0

1981
$162.0
$162.0
$162.0
$162.0

1982
$172.0
$172.0
$172.0
$172.0

1983
$172.0
$172.0
$172.0
$137.0

1984
$110.0
$110.0
$130.0
$137.5

1985
$85.0
$130.0
$130.0
$150.5

1986
$75.0
$130.0
$130.0
$159.5

1987
$186.0
(b)
$238.0
$200.0

1988
$214.0
(b)
$214.0
$214.0

1989
$214.0
$214.0
$238.0
$228.0

1990
$214.0
$238.0
$248.0
$229.4

1991
$214.0
(b)
$245.0
$245.0

1992
$242.1
$242.1
$260.0
$251.1

1993
$259.6
$259.6
$275.0
$259.6

1994
$260.0
$253.3
$284.0
$275.0

1995
$275.0
$271.6
$310.0
$285.6

1996
$292.6
$292.6
$320.0
$275.0

1997
$292.6
(b)
$330.0
$260.0

1998
$296.4
$240.0
$260.0
$250.0

1999
$275.0
$250.0
$250.0
$250.0

2000
$325.0
$300.0
$300.0
$300.0

2001
$340.0
$340.0
$340.0
$340.0

2002
$350.0
$340.0
$350.0
$350.0

2003
$365.0
$365.0
$365.0
$362.8

2004
(c)
$365.0
$395.0
$377.8

2005
(c)
$380.0
$395.0
$386.8

2006
(c) (d)
$335.0
$400.0
$396.0

2007
(c) (d)
$400.0
$400.0
$400.0

2008
(c) (d)
$400.0
$400.0
$393.0

2009
(c) (d)
none
$400.0
$400.0

2010
(c) (d)
$420.0
$420.0
$420.0

2011
(c)
$430.0
$430.0
$429.1

2012
$440.0
$440.0
$450.0
$444.1

2013
$460.0
$460.0
$460.0
$445.0

2014
$451.0
none
$445.0
$445.0

Notes
(a) Transition Quarter funding, during which federal budget year changed from July to September.

Using Big Bird as a symbol of PBS's value is disingenuous and obscures legitimate questions of PBS's public service value and whether it deserves federal funding, Hirsch writes. (Illustration by Electronic Ink for Current)

Beyond Big Bird: What is public media’s value today?

When every year seems to bring a new round of threats to public media funding, it’s clear that public media isn’t doing a very good job of asserting its value. Maybe its detractors have more money and better lobbyists, but clearly the “Save Big Bird” tactic is only a Band-Aid, and one that’s getting worn out from overuse.

Key GOP lawmaker to CPB: Pubcasting needs a new pitch on Capitol Hill

House Republican Don Young, the 39-year veteran representative from Alaska’s at-large district and a longtime backer of public broadcasting, told the Corporation for Public Broadcasting board of directors Tuesday that the field would be more likely to find support in Congress if it presented itself in a more effective manner to its Hill critics. To strengthen public broadcasting’s case, Young stressed the importance of communicating directly with elected officials rather than staff members, and recommended emphasizing the extent to which public broadcasting relies on private funds and donations. “Can we help you? Yes. But you’re going to have to have a better selling program on the Hill,” Young said on the second day of the CPB board meeting, after declaring, “I am a Republican and I support public broadcasting.”

Board members asked Young why congressional Republicans continue to target CPB’s annual appropriation for elimination, and why GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney puts pubcasting atop his list of programs to lose taxpayer funding if he is elected.  The lawmaker’s  answer was straightforward:  Public broadcasting is an easy target.

CPB report to Capitol Hill countering “continued and pervasive” opposition to federal funding

CPB’s financial analysis on alternative funding sources for public broadcasting, prepared by consultants at Booz & Co.  and delivered to Congress in June, has had little impact on lawmakers’ views about continuation of CPB’s annual federal appropriation to date, CPB staff reported during a Sept. 10 board meeting  in Washington, D.C.

In the report, analysts for Booz examined a range of options for replacing CPB’s federal aid — from selling commercial advertising to tapping spectrum auction proceeds or selling pay-channel subscriptions, among others. They concluded that withdrawal of federal aid would have a “cascading debilitating effect,” starting first with stations serving rural areas and ultimately leading to collapse of the public broadcasting system. The dire predictions haven’t made much difference in swaying lawmakers on Capitol Hill, CPB’s government affairs staff reported to the board.  “I think it’s fair to say that in the past two-and-a-half months there’s been a little change in the conversation regarding funding for public broadcasting, and the idea of commercials,” said Michael Levy, CPB executive vice president.  CPB staff have been meeting with key Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate appropriations committees to discuss why a purely commercial model for public broadcasting is not a viable option. The Booz analysis predicted that public TV could earn more revenue from commercial advertising sales than it now does from underwriting, but the switch to ads would prompt a large portion of those who provide private support to the field —  individual donors, foundations and underwriters  — to withdraw their support, resulting in a net revenue loss.