CPB FY 2019 – FY 2021 Business Plan


CPB’s mission, as assigned by Congress, is to ensure universal access to high-quality content and services that educate, inform, enlighten, and inspire the public and help inform civil discourse essential to American society. In particular, CPB encourages the development of content that involves creative risk and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, especially children and minorities.

Building on the foundation created by the CPB Board of Directors through its Goals and Objectives, CPB management introduced a three-year business planning process in FY 2016. Each year, as CPB prepares a new iteration of its business plan, CPB management will review the impact of its decisions and investments against CPB strategic priorities, the Board’s Goals and Objectives, and the mission of public media.

The Role of CPB

The role of CPB – board and management – is to be the guardian of the mission of public media, to secure the federal appropriation, and be the strong steward of the taxpayers’ investment in public media. This translates day to day into several categories of work to support the public media system including grant-making, accountability, and thought leadership.  

Digital, Diversity, Dialogue

Three core values guide CPB in its work: Digital, Diversity, and Dialogue. They are at the heart of CPB’s leadership role within the public media system, provide the framework for CPB’s grant-making, and help CPB, as the steward of the federal appropriation, articulate public media’s relevance to the American people. 

  • Digital reflects CPB’s commitment to encourage innovation and constant expansion of the impact of public media’s content and services to the American people. 
  • Diversity reflects CPB’s commitment to foster inclusion, ensuring that public media connects to the lives of all Americans in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, geography, socioeconomic status, and point of view.
  • Dialogue reflects CPB’s commitment to promote engagement with communities through high-quality content and services that reflect their needs and interests.

Meeting the Demands of the Media Environment

Today’s media environment is marked by constant change and increasing competition. Media consumption habits, audience expectations, and media technologies continue to rapidly evolve. People expect to be able to access the content they want, anytime, anywhere, on any device. Further, they increasingly expect this content to be curated to match their interests and be specifically formatted to the platform they are using.

To thrive in this environment, public media will need to be diverse, networked, agile, and innovative. Public media must also evolve as creators, curators, and connectors on both the local and national level in order to fulfill its mission to inform our citizens, educate our nation’s children, and engage with communities.

As such, innovation and diversity must be at the center of public media’s culture. CPB, through its leadership and investments, will continue to encourage agility within the public media system and support innovation across all platforms, and in ways that ensure public media will remain relevant in an increasingly diverse America.

FY 2019 – FY 2021 Strategic Priorities

The Board of Directors’ Goals and Objectives (Appendix A) outline three broad areas of impact: Content and Services, Innovation, and Support for Public Media. The Goals and Objectives provide the foundation for the Business Plan and shape our three, inter-related strategic priorities:

  1. Secure the Federal Appropriation;
  2. Sustain the Public Media System and Increase its Capacity for Innovation; and
  3. Increase Usage of Public Media Content and Services

Collectively, these strategic priorities are focused on serving public media’s constantly evolving audience, sustaining access to public media’s service, addressing disruption in the public media industry, and securing resources on behalf of public media’s mission. 

CPB’s first strategic priority is to secure the federal appropriation because the federal investment through CPB is the foundation on which the entire public media system is built. Without the federal appropriation, small towns and rural communities across the country could lose access to public media content and services, as the stations serving those communities do not have the donor base from which to raise the funds necessary to sustain service. Such a loss of access would ultimately have a cascading debilitating effect on the remaining stations and the national programming service. At bottom, the loss of federal support for public broadcasting risks the collapse of the system itself. 

The second and third strategic priorities depend on each other for success. For a public media system cannot be sustained without its core product – content and services – just as the content cannot be widely used without having a system infrastructure in place, including content creators and distribution methods. Through these strategic priorities, CPB seeks to meet the challenges and realize the opportunities that are posed by the ongoing transformation of how people use media to suit their individual needs and circumstances. 

CPB will achieve these priorities and advance the mission of public media in today’s media environment through a series of individual strategies that will inform the development of our initiatives, projects and activities. 


Measurement is essential to understanding the impact that public media has on the communities it seeks to serve. Effective measurement requires an approach that supports consistency, comparability, and the ability to learn by experience.  

CPB relies on information – quantitative and qualitative – to assess the success of a project or initiative, and to inform our decisions on behalf of the mission of public media.  

CPB evaluates progress at multiple levels and across time, including: evaluating the performance of projects and initiatives against contracted performance goals; evaluating the impact of projects and initiatives on specific audiences and the communities public media seeks to serve; and evaluating the strategic priorities against the mission of public media. It is important to note that evaluating impact and effectiveness of strategies takes time. In part because most of the content developed for educational and informational uses may span many years – even decades – but also because efforts to build station capacity and develop talent to create content take time to reach fruition.

Changes in the way in which audiences use, consume, and engage with media have also quickened the pace in how media organizations measure and assess the effectiveness of their initiatives. As a mission-focused organization, CPB continually assesses the ways in which we measure our performance in fulfilling our mission and our success in mobilizing our resources. 

In FY 2018, CPB engaged Eagle Hill Consulting to advise CPB as to how we could strengthen and systematize our information processes. In FY 2019, CPB will begin to address Eagle Hill’s recommendations for improving the various surveys and tools we use to collect and analyze station data (SABS, SAS, AFR/FSR and Local Content and Services Reports).[1] We will begin by consulting with public media stakeholders regarding potential changes to the existing surveys. We will also assess custom and off-the-shelf software solutions that could help us address our survey and reporting needs.

[1] Station Activities Survey (SAS) collects information from Grantees about their station’s operations to enable CPB to advocate the interests of public broadcasting, assist stations and other public broadcasting organizations with planning and evaluation, study and anticipate industry-wide trends, and calculate CSG payments. Station Activities Benchmarking Study (SABS) collects standard financial and operational information from Grantees. The data is provided to public broadcasting stations and national organizations to support decision-making, understand performance issues, identify improvement opportunities, and achieve defined objectives. Annual Financial Report (AFR): The financial information that Grantees must annually report to CPB, for grant calculation purposes. Annual Financial Summary Report (FSR): The financial information CPB permits certain Grantees to annually report to CPB in lieu of an AFR,



  1. Educate funders and the American public about the value of public media to American society. 
  2. Demonstrate strong stewardship of funds to Congress and the American people, through effective and efficient investments and an emphasis on accountability.


  1. Improve stations’ capacity to provide content and services that engage their communities by identifying and promoting successful operating and service models.
  2. Build system capacity for interactive, multiplatform digital media by providing professional development opportunities and supporting infrastructure planning.
  3. Encourage and facilitate the development of public media’s leadership and workforce so it reflects the diversity of the American people by supporting training and professional development efforts. 
  4. Strengthen public media’s role as a source of trusted, high-quality education resources for parents, educators, and learners of all ages by supporting the development of educational content and service models.
  5. Strengthen public media’s capacity to analyze community content preferences and giving habits by promoting best practices and scaled approaches to data management.


  1. Support the production of formal and informal educational content and services for all Americans.
  2. Support public media’s work to provide trusted, fact-based, accurate, fair, balanced, objective, and transparent local, regional, national and international news and information.
  3. Support the development of content that reflects America’s increasing diversity by funding diverse independent producers, and by encouraging existing public media producers to diversify their teams.
  4. Support the development of multiplatform content that accommodates changing media technologies and consumption habits.
  5. Support the development of content and services through which the American public can increasingly engage with public media organizations and with each other on multiple platforms and in multiple settings.
  6. Increase public media stations’ capacity to develop and distribute content, by supporting innovative and cost-effective methods for content creation.

Goals & Objectives


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967. CPB's mission is to ensure universal access, over-the-air and online, to high-quality content and telecommunications services that are commercial free and free of charge. It does this in conjunction with non-commercial educational telecommunications licensees across America.

The purpose of public media is to provide programs and services that inform, educate, enlighten, and enrich the public and help inform civil discourse essential to American society. It is CPB's particular responsibility to encourage the development of content that involves creative risk and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, especially children and minorities. CPB acts as a guardian of the mission and purposes for which public broadcasting was established.

The Board of Directors established the Goals and Objectives to set CPB's strategic direction. The Goals and Objectives, which are periodically reviewed and updated by the Board, provide a foundational framework for CPB’s nine strategic goals (page 4) They outline three broad areas of impact: Content and Services, Innovation, and Support for Public Media.

CPB awards grants in support of content and services that are educational, innovative, locally relevant, and reflective of America's common values and cultural diversity. Under a framework referred to as the “three Ds” — Digital, Diversity, and Dialogue — CPB's grants support innovation on digital platforms; content that is for, by and about the diverse communities we seek to serve; and content and services that foster dialogue and engagement among members of the audience and the broader community.


GOAL: Promote an educated and informed civil society by supporting high-quality engaging content and services delivered across multiple platforms.

To achieve this Goal, CPB will pursue the following objectives:

A. Support the development and distribution of high-quality, noncommercial content and services with particular attention to the needs and interests of children, core public media communities, diverse audiences, and unserved and underserved communities.

B. Facilitate the development and distribution of high-quality content, including news and information, that is accurate, fair, balanced, objective, transparent, and produced in a manner that is consistent with the editorial integrity of producers, distributors and stations.

C.  Enhance stations’ role as essential local and regional institutions and content providers.  Encourage stations to respond to and reflect the diversity of their communities through their content, personnel and boards.

D. Provide parents, caregivers, teachers, and students with high-quality educational content that improves learning outcomes.

E. Facilitate the development of content created for and delivered across multiple platforms.


GOAL: Strengthen the quality of public media's content and services, and deepen the engagement with audiences and users, by supporting innovative projects.

To achieve this Goal, CPB will pursue the following objectives:

A. Support the efforts of public media stations and producers to make innovative use of broadcast, internet and mobile platforms to serve audiences wherever, whenever and however they use, share and create media.

B. Support public media efforts to develop strategies to address the rapidly changing ways in which people are using media.


GOAL: Strengthen the quality of public media’s content and services by supporting strong public media entities that are vital to and reflective of the people they serve.

To achieve this Goal, CPB will pursue the following objectives:

A. Promote and support collaborations and consolidations to increase capacity to provide essential and diverse service.

B. Foster a public media workforce that incorporates the diverse backgrounds, talents and experiences of the American people.

C. Support initiatives and projects that extend the reach of public media to new and more diverse users and creators of content.

D.  Work with public media organizations to increase and measure the impact of the services they provide as well as the awareness of the vital role that public media plays in helping communities address important local issues.