Trump budget seeks to zero out CPB funding by 2018

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Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump speaking to supporters at a campaign rally in Arizona last year.

President Trump’s first budget plan, released Thursday, proposes eliminating funding for CPB, reportedly by fiscal year 2018.

The so-called “skinny budget” is a preliminary document that sketches out Trump’s plans for his full budget, expected later this spring. The full budget will then go to Congress for approval.

The document does not contain actual budget numbers for CPB. But in a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said CPB funding would be “winding down” this year and zeroed out in 2018, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

“The policy is, we’re ending federal involvement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” Mulvaney said.

CPB is forward-funded by two years to allow public broadcasters to leverage the federal dollars and to protect content from political interference. Current CPB funding for FY17, $445 million, was approved in FY15.

Zeroing out CPB “defies the will of the American people and would devastate the educational and public safety missions of public television they value most,” said Pat Butler, president of America’s Public Television Stations, in a statement.

CPB President Pat Harrison said elimination of federal funding “would initially devastate and ultimately destroy public media’s role in early childhood education, public safety, connecting citizens to our history, and promoting civil discussions — all for Americans in both rural and urban communities.”

And Paula Kerger, PBS president, noted that the cost of public broadcasting “is small, only $1.35 per citizen per year, and the benefits are tangible: increasing school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, lifelong learning, public safety communications and civil discourse.”

The plan also proposes elimination of the $148 million budget for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the same amount for the National Endowment for the Arts, which both fund public media content.

Over the past 20 years, NEH has awarded about $142 million to public media projects. “Funding for public film and radio is central to NEH’s mission,” NEH spokesperson Theola DeBose told Current. “Both films and radio programs provide a bridge between the academy and the public, bringing compelling ideas from scholarship to wide audiences.”

The NEA has provided $337.2 million since 1966 to its media arts division, which has funded many public broadcasting projects.

Support for public broadcasting support has survived previous defunding attempts by presidents, even when Republicans held the House, Senate and White House.

This time around, prominent public media supporters include Vice President Mike Pence, who received a Champion of Public Broadcasting Award in 2014, and Republican Rep. Tom Cole, chair of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which handles funding for CPB, NEA and NEH.

  • Paul Cook

    It will be an interesting battle. “Public media” brought much of this on themselves. For too long they ignored the complaints of liberal bias. Instead they focused on serving a narrow interest group that didn’t really represent the broad spectrum of political ideology found in the country. Now they may find out they really don’t have friends on both sides of the political aisle.

    • Brad Deltan

      Morning Edition has a larger audience than any other radio outlet, including Rush Limbaugh. It’s over 22 million people…nearly a tenth of the entire US population.

      • TomKaz

        “There is no other media outlet that comes even close.”

        Premiere Networks. Rush Limbaugh puts up the same numbers as All Things Considered, Sean Hannity puts up the same numbers as Morning Edition, and Glen Beck has nearly twice the audience as Fresh Air.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-listened-to_radio_programs

        Limbaugh, Hannity, and Beck don’t receive taxpayer funding. Why should NPR? And if the cost of “public broadcasting” is so small, “only $1.35 per citizen per year”, they should easily be able to replace their funding through private sources.

        • Brad Deltan

          Because they can air commercials. NPR stations (and NPR itself, by extension) cannot because they’re mostly operating in the non-commercial band.

          If you’re going to insist on the government hobbling the free market, you have to require the government to make up the difference.

          • TomKaz

            Whether you like it or not, NPR stations promote businesses all the time. And who’s insisting on government to ‘hobble the free market’? Not me.

    • TomKaz

      Be prepared to be let down. Politicians of all stripes get elected by giving people stuff they didn’t pay for. It explains our $20 trillion national debt and many trillions more in unfunded liabilities.

  • Nathan Moore

    Agencies like the CPB, NEH, and NEA carry out a positive vision for our society. They marshal

    some of our nation’s enormous wealth for public goods:

    – A vision where we *do* fund public broadcasting because it’s a critical source for information and music. Information and music that’s not being blatantly sold to us by somebody looking to profit.

    – A vision where we *do* fund the arts because the arts make our lives better.

    – A vision where we *do* fund cultural institutions that improve our communities and help people lead richer, more flourishing lives.

    The damnedest part of it all is that Trump doesn’t seem to have any particular enmity toward public broadcasting or the arts or the others on the list to be slashed. But he’s surrounded by the likes of Steve Bannon who want to blow the whole thing up just so they can see how pretty the shrapnel might be. And by groups like the Heritage Foundation that are happy to fill the void and provide a budget blueprint to carry out their “I Got Mine, Jack” vision for America.

    They simply don’t seem to have any conception of a public good. But we in public media DO have a vision for a public good, and we carry it out each day. And we must hammer that home over and over.

    • Lee Larsen

      If it’s that great, then you’ll have no problem finding private funding for it.

      • Brad Deltan

        At $135 million dollars EACH (meaning just four of them could pay for all of CPB) I’d say the same argument could be made for the most worthless combat jet in history: the F-35.

  • Lee Larsen

    Good for Trump, trim the fat. Government has no business in the entertainment industry.

  • altfactor@hotmail.com

    This will mean more and longer pledge drives on PBS and NPR stations.

  • Charlie Pinkerton

    How about a deal? If NPR cuts their left-wing bias, Trump restores some of their funding.

    • TomKaz

      As a matter of principle, government shouldn’t be funding any “news” organization; left, right, center…whatever.

      • Charlie Pinkerton

        Absolutely right. News without bias is what we want.

        • Brad Deltan

          If your test is bias, you’re already biased. Smokescreen.

      • What about VOA?

        • TomKaz

          Defund.

      • Brad Deltan

        What about “Stars & Stripes”?

        • TomKaz

          Apples and oranges. It’s the only media available to members of the military (many overseas) that focuses and reports on matters concerning the United States Armed Forces.

    • Brad Deltan

      How about a better deal? Bring back the Fairness Doctrine, and Trump disappears from lack of media coverage.

  • Farmer Don

    This outfit is an adjunct of the Democrat Party and a soap box for the liberal left with a stable of “go to” sources. They avoid reporting what cuts against their views and agenda. They over pay their stars. They provide quasi sinecures for their retired favorites. They go after people they don’t like and cover for those they like. Being left/liberal is a prerequisite for being hired. They have become hysterical.
    Any amount of government subsidy for “news and commentary” is inappropriate and repugnant, regardless of the slant.
    Defund them and set them free. Let those who like them fund them. No half-way measures. Cold turkey.