Coronavirus relief bill includes $75M to public broadcasters

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Ben Mook/Current

Public broadcasting will receive emergency funding from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed Friday by President Trump.

The bill includes $75 million for CPB “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for fiscal stabilization grants to public telecommunications entities,” the bill says. It directs CPB to use the funds to help “to maintain programming and services and preserve small and rural stations threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues.”

CPB President Pat Harrison commended Congress’ approval of the funding in a statement.

“This vitally needed stabilization funding will help to ensure all Americans will continue to have access to crucial local and national services that are being provided by public media stations across our nation,” she said. “As school districts close across our country due to the coronavirus outbreak, public television stations are offering their broadcast and online services to help teachers continue educational instruction at home.

“Further, in many states and local communities, public media stations’ digital and broadcast infrastructure provide the backbone for emergency alert, public safety, first responder and homeland security services. This stabilization funding will safeguard the nation’s ability to continue to deliver emergency alerts and essential safety information.”

Patrick Butler, CEO of America’s Public Television Stations, said that corporate, foundation and individual giving to public television stations has “rapidly decreased in the wake of the economic downturn accompanying the contagion.”

“While even $75 million only begins to address these unprecedented needs while private revenues are plummeting, we are grateful for the broad support for this emergency funding for public media among both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate,” Butler said. “We will do our best with the resources we have to serve our country and our fellow citizens in this time of shared crisis.”

Butler noted that many public television stations are “devoting their entire daytime schedules to age-appropriate educational programming and stations are also providing online services, learning games, teacher and parent guides, and other resources.”

This story has been updated following President Trump’s signing of the legislation, with a statement from CPB’s Pat Harrison.

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