CPB FY 2018 – FY 2020 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 the local and national level in order to fulfill its mission to educate our nation’s children, inform our citizens 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 2018 – FY 2020 Strategic Priorities

The Board of Directors’ Goals and Objectives 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.

The Impact of the 2015 CPB Board of Directors Retreat

In addition to the Board’s Goals and Objectives, the ideas advanced at the October 2015 CPB Board Retreat in Boston inform the development of strategies, and ultimately initiatives and projects, outlined in the business plan. These ideas included recommendations to increase diversity, innovate in content production and distribution, strategically align its education activities with learning opportunities, advance a networked approach to journalism, and improve the collection and usage of data. 


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.


  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.