House GOP spending bill puts the squeeze on net neutrality, CPB


The Republican-controlled House passed sweeping legislation 2/19 to cut $61 billion from hundreds of federal programs. The House-passed bill, by a party line vote of 235 to 189, would bar the FCC from implementing its Net Neutrality rules by prohibiting the expenditure of any funds. It would also eliminate any funding in the current fiscal year for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which distributes grant money to NPR, PBS and other program suppliers and producers. The proposed budget would slash about $420 million-$430 million in funding for the CPB. The Senate must still take action for it to become law.

The $1.2 trillion stopgap measure would finance federal programs through 9/30, when the current budget year ends. It includes many spending cuts prohibitions that make a showdown with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats inevitable. The government would shut down 3/4 without the funding bill.

Some 12% to 20% of the revenues of all public broadcasting stations have been funded from federal sources, mainly through CPB. CPB provides some funding for PBS and NPR, but much more of its funding goes to public television and radio stations that are usually affiliates of PBS or NPR. They would be the most affected.

In 2009, for example, NPR revenues totaled $164 million, with the bulk of revenues coming from programming fees, grants, contributions and sponsorships. According to that same 2009 financial statement, about 40% of NPR revenues come from the fees it charges member stations to receive programming. In that year, NPR member stations received 6% of their revenue from direct government funding, 10% of their revenue from federal funding in the form of CPB grants, and 14% of their revenue from universities. About 1.5% of NPR’s revenues come from CPB grants.

Among the other provisions:

-Cut about $60 billion in spending from last year’s levels in many domestic programs, including education, environmental protection and community services.

-Block money to implement Obama’s health care overhaul law enacted last year.

-Reduce Pell Grants for lower-income college students by $5.6 billion. The White House says that would reduce the maximum $5,550 grant by $845.

-Cut $747 million in food aid for poor pregnant women and women with children up to the age of 5.