FY18 omnibus legislation includes funds for radio stations affected by repack

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President Trump signed a fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill into law Friday that includes level funding for CPB and an additional $1 billion for TV and radio broadcasters disrupted by channel repacking.

The law also provides $20 million for public broadcasting’s interconnection work.

CPB will receive $445 million for fiscal year 2020. Its appropriation is forward-funded by two years.

The interconnection cash signals a change in how often it could be allotted. Previously, public broadcasters requested funding to update distribution infrastructure about once a decade. America’s Public Television Stations has been working to turn that into annual payments.

“CPB appreciates Congress’ support in transitioning interconnection to a yearly funding paradigm,” said President Pat Harrison, “and it will ensure that these dollars are spent to achieve a cost-effective and technologically advanced systemwide infrastructure and services that benefit the American people.”

The $1.75 billion fund for TV channel repacking following last year’s spectrum auction, which broadcasters had complained was not sufficient, will get an extra $600 million in FY18 and $400 million in FY19.

Public broadcasters requested $336.6 million from the FCC for repacking, which is affecting 148 public stations. All broadcasters asked for a total of $2.1 billion.

The additional $1 billion in support “will help ensure that television viewers will not be inconvenienced, or left without service, as this transition is completed,” said APTS President Pat Butler.

The omnibus also makes FM radio stations eligible for reimbursement of costs they’ll incur due to the repack. Stations get up to $50 million for that work.

Public television’s Ready To Learn, the early-childhood education program funded through the Department of Education, receives $27.7 million, up from $25.7 million last fiscal year.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities each receive $152.8 million for FY18, up from $150 million each in FY17. Both fund public media projects.

President Trump’s proposed FY18 budget sought to shut down CPB, the NEA and the NEH and defund Ready To Learn and interconnection.

The omnibus legislation is a $1.3 trillion deal to keep the government operating through this fiscal year.

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