The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on Tuesday recommended $515 million in advance funding for public broadcasting in Fiscal Year 2023.
This was met with applause from America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), the nonprofit membership organization “ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system.”
APTS President/CEO Patrick Butler says his group is “most grateful” for the CPB appropriation and notes the increase of $50 million for CPB will enable public broadcasting “to educate more children, protect more lives and property, and enable more well-informed citizens to guide the world’s most important democracy.”
And, APTS is also appreciative that the subcommittee recommended level funding of $20 million in FY 2021 for an annual station interconnection account, which Butler says “is the backbone of the public broadcasting system, supporting nationwide emergency alerting, providing local stations with national programming, connecting stations with each other, and creating operational efficiencies.”
In his view, “These essential services have never been more important than they are now during the current coronavirus pandemic. No one but public television could immediately launch free remote learning services for millions of students in all 50 States when schools were forced to close. Local stations across the country devoted their entire daytime broadcast schedules to age-appropriate educational programming, ensuring that millions of suddenly homebound students could continue their education regardless of their ability to access the internet.”
In partnership with states and local school districts, public television stations provided standards-based, curriculum-aligned instruction everywhere and built a datacasting bridge across the digital divide for students without internet access.
Meanwhile, APTS awaits further word on funding for Ready To Learn, a competitive grant program at the Department of Education that supports the creation and distribution of educational media content to millions of children across America.
“We are also waiting for confirmation on whether the Homeland Security appropriations bill includes funding for public broadcasting’s Next Generation Warning System within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” Butler says.
This funding would help support public broadcasting’s work in alert and warning and public safety communications.