House panel sustains funding for CPB, interconnection, Ready To Learn

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The House Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal 2019 spending bill Wednesday that continues level funding for CPB, public broadcasting’s interconnection and the early childhood initiative Ready To Learn.

The bill provides CPB’s forward-funded FY21 outlay of $445 million, as well as FY19 support of $20 million for interconnection upgrades including siX, PBS’ new distribution system. Lawmakers also provided $27.7 million for Ready To Learn, a Department of Education program.

“The broad bipartisan support on the committee for these funds constitutes an encouraging vote of confidence in public television’s work in education, public safety and civic leadership in hundreds of American communities,” said Patrick Butler, president of America’s Public Television Stations, in a statement.

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill June 28 that would provide the same funding for CPB and interconnection. A Senate report on the bill specified that RTL would receive $27.7 million. Public broadcasters had requested $30 million for the early childhood initiative in FY19.

Under a five-year contract administered by CPB, most Ready To Learn funding supports PBS Kids content and educational outreach. Ready To Learn also funds science programming for children produced by Twin Cities PBS in St. Paul, Minn.

The continued support of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees of Ready To Learn “benefits our nation’s youngest learners, especially from low-income communities, as they prepare for school and a lifetime of learning,” said CPB President Pat Harrison in a statement.

Harrison also that that the appropriation bills “support continued investment in the public broadcasting interconnection system and other systemwide infrastructure and services, which allows for public media content to be distributed to the American people.”

President Trump proposed an FY19 budget in February that would give CPB $15 million to shut itself down.

Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that the Senate bill did not contain funding for Ready To Learn. While the initiative is not mentioned in the bill text, a Senate report on the bill detailed that funding.

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