The House approved a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Wednesday that would give CPB an additional $175 million in emergency funds to be distributed to public broadcasting stations.
The Senate approved the package last week. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill into law.
The first coronavirus relief bill, passed in March 2020, included $75 million in stabilizing funds for CPB, which had requested $250 million. In mid-April, CPB requested the additional $175 million that was withheld from the previous request.
A congressional package approved in December did not include additional relief funding, but CPB made another formal request for the $175 million in January. In its request, it said station income from state governments and private sources has decreased, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The request pointed to potential losses to the system exceeding $196 million in fiscal year 2020. In fiscal year 2019, total revenue for stations was $3.4 billion.
“Revised forecasts by public media’s national organizations indicate that the public media system will lose an additional $200 million in non-federal funding in 2021,” CPB added.
“Although our data indicates that public media’s stabilization needs exceed $400 million, we are mindful of the difficult decisions the new Administration and Congress must make during this time,” the request said. “If stations are forced to cut additional jobs or further reduce content and services, their ability to deliver emergency alerts, essential information, and educational services, especially in underserved areas, will be significantly impacted.”
More emergency relief is vital for stations, said America’s Public Television Stations CEO Pat Butler.
“We are grateful for the broad bipartisan support for this emergency funding for public media … ,” Butler said in a March 6 statement after the Senate approved the bill. “We will do our best with the resources we have to continue to respond effectively to serve our country and our fellow citizens as we get through this crisis,” Butler said.
CPB President Pat Harrison said at a March board meeting that the corporation would “convene a group of system leaders to create a distribution plan” for new emergency funding. After consulting with an advisory group of station representatives last year, CPB gave some small and rural stations more money from the pool of funds. The $75 million from that package was split evenly between TV and radio.