CPB requests additional $175M in emergency funds from Congress

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A co-chair of Congress’ Public Broadcasting Caucus said in a statement Thursday that there’s bipartisan support in the House and Senate to give CPB an additional $175 million in emergency relief funds.

While Congress debates what can and should be included in the next stimulus package, CPB has sought funds to help stations survive losses in state and university funding and downturns in underwriting caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of four co-chairs of the caucus, said in the statement that negotiations for additional funds are ongoing, “and we continue to inform our colleagues on all the incredible work their local stations are doing.”

CPB requested $250 million in stabilizing funds in March. The House sought $300 million.

During a CPB board meeting April 27, Blumenauer said members of the House were “bitterly disappointed” that CPB did not receive the $300 million. “If any of those requests were merited, yours should’ve been at the top of the list,” he said.

Congress ultimately approved $75 million in funds for CPB in the Cares Act signed by President Trump in March. CPB received the funds from the U.S. Treasury Department last month. The money was distributed to stations with the funds evenly split between public TV and radio. In mid-April, CPB requested the additional $175 million withheld from the previous request. 

That amount is “not a problem” in the House, Blumenauer said during the meeting. “We’d go much heavier, but we know we’ve got to thread the needle and make sure we get the Senate’s support,” Blumenauer said.

During the meeting, CPB President Pat Harrison made the case that the corporation has funded valuable programming including at-home learning services, daily news shows, America Amplified and a StoryCorps initiative connecting young people and the elderly.

America’s Public Television Stations is separately asking lawmakers for increased federal and state funding, said APTS officials, as well as support for a FEMA grant program that could be added to funds reserved for infrastructure.

“This is a big interruption,” said APTS President Pat Butler of the coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t know the depth of it or the severity of it right now, but we’re hopeful” that APTS’ funding requests will be approved, he said.

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