How The Federal Budget Affects Northwest Public Radio and TV

Mar 31, 2017

Since the Trump Administration released its proposed budget in mid-March, listeners and viewers have been asking a vital question: What does this mean to Northwest Public Radio & Television? Truthfully, we can’t be sure of an answer, because the president’s budget is the first step in a long process that Congress will undertake.

What we do know is that federal funding is vital to Northwest Public Radio & Television.

Federal funding for Northwest Public Radio & Television, and for many public broadcasters, is distributed from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as Community Service Grants. All federal support to the CPB has been eliminated in the proposed Trump Administration budget.

No matter what Congress does with the President’s proposed budget, the immediate future of CPB will be influenced by the reality that CPB is funded by Congress on a two-year cycle. The current appropriation for CPB passed in fall 2016 and includes funding for CPB through fall 2018. CPB’s FY2017 appropriation was distributed to CPB on October 1, 2016.  CPB funding has been secured for FY2018 and FY2019, but has not yet been distributed to stations. Technically these appropriations could be rescinded, but it would take an act of Congress—literally—to make that happen.

Other pertinent facts about CPB funding and Northwest Public Radio & Television include:

  • Northwest Public Radio receives just under $400,000 annually (8% of budget) from CPB.
  • Northwest Public Television receives just over $750,000 annually (31% of budget) from CPB.
  • The CPB was created by Congress in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and is a large source of funding for public radio, television and online services in the country. CPB distributes funding in the forms of Community Service Grants to local public radio and TV stations.
  • Federal funds to the CPB makes is one-tenth of one percent (0.01%) of the total U.S. federal budget. The average cost in federal funds for public media nationally comes to $1.35 per person per year.

Northwest Public Radio & Television actions and resources

  • WSU interacts with local legislators on behalf of any issues that impact the university. As university-licensed stations, Northwest Public Radio & Television are represented by WSU.
  • Northwest Public Radio & Television identified “future funding” as one of four station priorities in its 2010 strategic plan. Future funding has remained in the plan year after year, in large part due to gradual reduction of federal funds available. Station staff and donors have taken a long-term approach to building these funds, focusing on estate gift plans that are designated to support Northwest Public Broadcasting well into the future. As of January 2017, donors have documented their intentions to bequeath $2 million to NWPB through their wills, trusts, retirement plans, and other estate plans. While this is a great and generous start, note for scale: endowments would need to reach more than $28M to completely replace CPB annual income.
  • Listeners, viewers and philanthropists have always been public broadcasting’s strongest resource. Charitable contributions to local stations keep regular programming on air and on line, gifts provide the extra needed to replace diminishing federal support, and the funds allow stations to take on additional tasks such as public outreach.

Northwest Public Radio and Northwest Public Television will post additional information about CPB funding issues at nwpr.org and nwptv.org.

More information on CPB funding and Public Broadcasting

The White House proposal for the federal budget

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

Comments from Corporation for Public Broadcasting CEO Patricia Harrison

For those who wish to know more or get involved, Protect My Public Media is a collaboration of local public radio and television stations, national distributors, producers, viewers, listeners and others who support a strong public media in the United States. The goal of the campaign is to activate our audiences to support federal funding for public media by taking a stand for the local stations and programs they love.