House subcommittee proposes zeroing out pubmedia funding for FY27

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The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies recommended zeroing out public media funding in its fiscal year 2025 appropriations bill.

Made public Thursday, the bill proposes no funding for CPB effective FY2027. The corporation’s appropriation, currently $535 million, is forward-funded two years in advance.

The subcommittee bill also proposes cutting public media’s interconnection and infrastructure budget, which was most recently allocated $60 million. It does not mention the Ready To Learn grant program led by the Department of Education.

“America’s Public Television Stations are profoundly disappointed and mystified that the subcommittee has once again proposed to eliminate federal funding for public media in the FY 2025 appropriations bill,” said Patrick Butler, president of America’s Public Television Stations, in a news release.

“We’re the only preschool education there is for more than half of America’s children,” Butler said. “We’re the backbone of the national Wireless Alert System, and we’re partners in public safety initiatives from Maryland to California. We’re the last local media chronicling life in heartland America and the ‘C-SPAN’ of state governments. And the American people consistently rank us among the best investments the government makes, after only national defense and food and drug safety.

“Yet here we are, still struggling to maintain a federal appropriation that amounts to about $1.60 per American. We remain hopeful that the strong bipartisan support for public media, both in Congress and among the American people, will ultimately result in full funding for CPB, system interconnection and infrastructure, and Ready To Learn as the appropriations process moves forward.”

Public media advocates have had to fight for continued appropriations in recent years, notably under the Trump administration and with last year’s decision by the same House subcommittee to zero out appropriations. That effort was trumped by the Senate’s move to sustain funding.

This year, the Biden administration proposed $595 million for CPB’s appropriation in FY27. The budget also includes level funding at $60 million for the interconnection system and infrastructure in FY25 and $31 million in level funding in FY25 for Ready To Learn.

Separately, the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee earlier this month recommended $40 million in funding for the Next Generation Warning System for FY25. NGWS funding is separate from CPB’s annual forward-funded appropriation, so NGWS could still receive funding even if CPB’s support were cut.

Public media also faced new adversaries among Republican politicians this year amid the backlash sparked by former NPR editor Uri Berliner, who accused the network of bias in an op-ed for The Free Press.

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