Appropriation Request and Justification for Fiscal Years 2014 and 2016
CPB distributes its appropriation in accordance with a statutory formula outlined in the Public Broadcasting Act. Ninety-five percent of CPB's appropriation goes directly to content development, community services, and other local station and system needs. Only five percent is allocated to administrative costs—an exceptionally low overhead rate compared to other nonprofits. By statute, Community Service Grants (CSGs), which go directly to local public television and radio stations, make up 70 percent of CPB's entire appropriation. Stations have wide latitude to use CSG funds to serve local needs in a manner they choose, which often includes community outreach, program purchasing, and local content development.
Also by statute, the System Support category funds projects that benefit the entire public broadcasting community, while the Television Programming and Radio Programming funds support the development of national content.
If Congress makes no changes to CPB's authorizing legislation and fully funds our request for a $445 million advance appropriation for FY 2016, the statutory categories under the Public Broadcasting Act would be funded as follows:
Public Television Station and Programming Grants — $297.79 million
Direct Station Grants (TV CSGs) — $222.78 million
By statute, stations use CSGs “for purposes related primarily to the production or acquisition of programming.” The size of each station's CSG depends on factors (determined by CPB through periodic system consultations) such as size of station, the amount of nonfederal financial support raised, and the number of stations in a given market. Under current CPB policy, stations can use CSGs for one of seven categories of expenses, all related to production or acquisition of programming: Programming and Production; Broadcasting, Transmission and Distribution; Program Information and Promotion; Fundraising and Membership Development; Underwriting and Grant Solicitation; Management and General; and Purchase, Rehabilitation or Improvement of Capital Assets.
In FY2011, CSGs made up 13 percent of the average public television station's total revenue, with stations using this funding to leverage other critical investments from station and local governments, universities, businesses, foundations, and viewers. For many public television stations serving rural areas, this percentage is significantly higher. See Appendix G for a full listing of station funding by state, the vast majority of which is CSG funding.
National Television Programming Grants — $75.01 million
The Public Broadcasting Act requires a set percentage of the CPB appropriation to go toward “national public television programming.” CPB funds a broad array of national programs in support of the statutory mission to reach underserved audiences, fund independent producers, provide high-quality educational programming for children and adults, and other content-related activities. CPB anticipates that the following activities will receive Television Programming funding in FY2016:
National Program Service ($26 million in FY2012)
CPB funds the National Program Service (NPS) to support children's and prime-time television programming. NPS funding currently supports signature series and specials, including American Experience, American Masters, PBS NewsHour, NOVA, Nature, FRONTLINE, History Detectives, Washington Week, Wild Kratts, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and Sesame Street. Additional funding helps CPB fund programming that engages, inspires, and educates children and adults.
Program Challenge Fund ($9 million in FY2012)
CPB and PBS jointly administer the Program Challenge Fund (PCF) to support the production of high-quality, high-profile, limited documentary series which will attract new audiences to public media. Recent PCF successes include: Black in Latin America, which reveals how African and European peoples combined to create the vibrant cultures of Latin America; and The Fabric of the Cosmos that went to the frontier of physics to discover what scientists are learning about space, time and the universe.
Diversity and Innovation Fund ($7 million in FY2012)
The Diversity and Innovation (D&I) Fund supports the production of diverse primetime and children's broadcast content as well as digital projects. The D&I Fund, founded in 2009, has supported a multipart series on African American history, a special on Latinos and Education, a program on contemporary Asian culture, and a digital project on United States paralympians. Further funding would allow CPB to sustain this focus on diversity — in front of, and behind the camera — and bring even more content to the airwaves and the internet. This year the D&I Fund, working with partners at PBS, will bring several new series to air including one about returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and the role they are playing in their communities; La Batalla, the story of how the Vietnam War affected Latino communities in the U.S.; GENEALOGY ROADSHOW a four-part series that uses history, genealogy, and genetics to connect participants and viewers to their individual and family histories, to each other and to their community; TED Talks: Education, bringing together civic and business leaders, educators and students to explore ways to help stem the dropout crisis; and a new Ken Burns documentary, The Address, which follows students with language-based learning disabilities as they face challenges and triumphs in studying, memorizing, and publicly reciting The Gettysburg Address.
Independent Television Service Programming ($15 million in FY2012)
Since 1990, CPB has contracted with Independent Television Service (ITVS) to support independent producers and production entities. Funding for ITVS furthers the fundamental goals of expanding diversity and promoting innovation in public television broadcasting among producers, which, in turn, promotes a richer array of programming. ITVS recently launched Women and Girls Lead, a multiyear public media initiative consisting of more than 50 documentaries designed to educate and connect women, girls, and their allies to achieve equal access, freedom, and opportunity for women and girls worldwide. The centerpiece of this initiative was Half the Sky, a multi-media event based on the bestselling book of the same name by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. ITVS also funds production of the primetime broadcast series Independent Lens, public television's largest showcase of independent films.
Minority Consortia ($7.56 million in FY2012)
CPB funds the public television minority consortia as part of its commitment to develop and fund quality, culturally diverse programming for the American viewing public. The consortia comprise five individual national organizations, each of which selects and funds programs about its community. Each consortium awards grants to producers for program production and functions as a developer, producer, and distributor of programming that appeals to diverse audiences. Each harnesses the creative talents of minority communities. There is an individual minority consortium focused on the following groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
General Program Fund ($10.45 million in FY2012)
This fund provides support for public television content that has significant educational or cultural value which viewers are not likely to find anywhere else. For instance, it funds American cultural programming like A Capitol Fourth, PBS's annual Fourth of July concert and the National Memorial Day Concert as well as Ken Burns' acclaimed documentaries. Ken's recent work includes The Dust Bowl about the 1930s' ecological disaster and a film about the Central Park Five, which will air this spring.
Public Radio Station and Programming Grants — $99.26 million
“Unrestricted” CSGs — $69.3 million
Like public television stations, eligible public radio stations also receive CSGs from CPB, though for radio, the CSG contains two types of funds: unrestricted and restricted. The unrestricted portion can be used for a variety of purposes, including local content development, community outreach, infrastructure maintenance, and other station needs.
“Restricted” CSGs — $22.9 million
Radio restricted CSGs are required by the Public Broadcasting Act “to be used for acquiring or producing [radio] programming that is to be distributed nationally and is designed to serve the needs of a national audience.” Broadly speaking, public radio stations use the restricted portion of their CSG to acquire programming from national producers such as NPR, Public Radio International, American Public Media, independent producers and other stations that produce national content. Taken together, in FY2011, the average public radio station relied on both unrestricted and restricted grants for 8.6 percent of its annual revenue. However, for some stations, including those serving rural or Native American communities, the CSG provides the bulk of their funding. As with television CSGs, the size of each station's grant depends on factors such as population density of the market served, local need, and the amount of funds that stations can raise on their own (CPB incentivizes funds-matching by providing additional funding to stations that can leverage those dollars further).
Radio Program Fund — $7.06 million
As on the television side, the Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to invest a small portion of the appropriation in nationally-distributed radio programming projects. The Radio Program Fund supports the development of new public radio services and series, the production of urgent or timely content, the work of independent radio producers, and the development of innovative content forms. Some of the programs funded through Radio Programming are:
StoryCorps is the groundbreaking public radio project that honors and celebrates American lives through listening. StoryCorps collects interviews from everyday Americans and edits them for local and national broadcast on public radio. Its recently launched Military Voices Initiative is a major national project aimed at bridging the gap between the civilian population and the military community by recording, sharing, and preserving the stories of those individuals that serve and protect our county with their lives. The interviews are available online; they are also archived at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress
State of the Re:Union
State of the Re:Union is an innovative, multimedia, multi-platform project that travels the country creating content that highlights the distinctive culture and sensibilities of a community. The program provides new, unique voices for public media — bringing younger and more diverse perspectives to the airwaves. Combined with its community engagement and social media activities, the project is pioneering an integrated approach to digital storytelling that reflects the diversity of America as it explores the themes, stories, challenges, and cultural components that personify communities across the country.
Native America Calling and National Native News
Native America Calling and National Native News cover a wide spectrum of Native American and Alaska Native issues and ensure that Native voices are heard in our national discourse. The two programs enrich the diversity of American media by educating the public with cultural offerings, questions, and dialogue not found in commercial media programming.
New Visions, New Voices
New Visions, New Voices brings new and diverse voices to public media by featuring notable African American specialists and commentators. Next Tier Solutions will produce 168 short-form commentaries and two hour-long specials featuring experts, analysts, and commentators from this new diverse group for marketing and distribution to stations across the country. Content produced will be marketed to national shows in public media to serve as regular contributors or as analysts and commentators on breaking news.
System Support (or “Six Percent”) Funds — $26.7 million
The Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to use six percent of the appropriation for “projects and activities that will enhance public broadcasting,” also known as “System Support” funds. System Support funds drive leadership among stations, innovation within the system, and collaboration across the system to help ensure effective and efficient programs and services. For example, in 2012, CPB used System Support funds to support its American Graduate initiative, helping stations help their communities to address the national high school dropout crisis. In addition, System Support funds help offset certain infrastructure costs mentioned in the Public Broadcasting Act such as interconnection and music royalty costs.
While it is not possible to predict all System Support needs in FY2016, the following projects are likely to continue to receive funding:
Expanding American Graduate
American Graduate brings public media together with key community stakeholders to improve student outcomes and raise academic achievement in support of ending the dropout crisis. Next year, CPB will expand successful models to bring meaningful impact and change to more communities at risk. CPB will invest in the development of new tools that support teacher development and engage middle and high school youth to improve learning. Finally, working with producers, stations, and national content distributors, CPB will fund additional national multiplatform content to highlight new information and solutions as the issue unfolds.
Music Copyright Fees
The Public Broadcasting Act says System Support funds “shall be available for expenses incurred by the Corporation for…the payment of programming royalties and other fees,” and CPB has traditionally paid all broadcast and internet music licensing fees on behalf of public television and radio as a service to the station community. If stations paid these fees individually, the overall cost would be much greater. However, CPB payment of these fees could change in the future as these costs have continued to rise at a much faster pace than CPB's appropriation.
TV Interconnection Operating Grants
As directed by statute, CPB provides half of the net cost of operating the interconnection system that PBS, regional distributors, local public television stations, and other entities will use to distribute programming material to public television stations nationwide.
One of CPB's primary leadership responsibilities is to further the long-term health and sustainability of the public media system and, as such, CPB will continue to pursue projects that are focused on maximizing the resources stations have available for service. These initiatives, with the goal of managing the costs of overhead and operations to provide more resources for the content that audiences care about, include facilitating multi-station “central-cast” systems and cooperative back office operations; encouraging stations to come together through mergers and consolidations where appropriate; developing and implementing sustainable service models for regions served by economically-challenged stations that are the sole public television or radio providers to that community, and improving station fundraising efficiency.
CPB Operations — $22.25 million
The Public Broadcasting Act allocates no more than five percent of the overall CPB appropriation for CPB administrative expenses.
2 United States Government Accountability Office. “Issues Related to the Structure and Funding of Public Television” (GAO-07-150). January 2007. With regard to program underwriting by businesses and foundations, GAO reported that “a few licensees believe that these revenues could be increased if restrictions on the content of on-air underwriting acknowledgments were relaxed. Many licensees, however, believe that this would go against the noncommercial character of public television and could cause a loss of funding support from other sources.” With regard to business ventures associated with its programs, GAO found “these opportunities are infrequent and do not generate significant revenue. Public television does not have the financial resources to invest heavily in the cost of program production to secure a larger share of any resulting back-end revenues. Moreover, the sale of merchandise associated with a program generally returns only a small percentage of the retail price to the program’s producer and investors, as is also true for commercial television programs.”
4 CPB Report to Congress on “Alternative Sources of Funding for Public Broadcasting Stations.” June 20, 2012.
Current appropriation & justification
CEO statement to Congress
Appropriation Request & Justification by Fiscal Year
- Appropriations request and justification for FY 2013 and FY 2015 PDF 1.4MB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY 2012 and FY 2014 PDF 1.3MB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY 2011 and FY 2013 PDF 931KB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY 2010 and FY 2012 PDF 3.3MB
- 2010 Fiscal Stabilization Appropriation
- Appropriations request and justification for FY2009 and FY2011 PDF 457KB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY2008 and FY2010 PDF 3.8MB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY2007 and FY2009 PDF 511KB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY2006 and FY2008 PDF 1.3MB
- Appropriations request and justification for FY2005 and FY2007 PDF 1.2MB