CPB’s Federal Appropriation Request & Justification

Detailed FY 2024/2026 Request

Public Television Station and Programming Grants
Public Radio Station and Programming Grants
System Support (or “Six Percent”) Funds
CPB Operations

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 5 percent is allocated to administrative costs—an exceptionally low overhead rate compared with other nonprofits. By statute, Community Service Grants (CSGs), which go directly to local public television and radio stations, make up 70% 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 $575 million advance appropriation for FY 2026, the statutory categories under the Public Broadcasting Act would be funded as follows:

Specific Allocations

Public Television Station and Programming Grants
$383.81 million

Direct Station Grants (TV CSGs) — $287.86 million

By statute, stations use CSGs “for purposes related primarily to the production or acquisition of programming.”[1] 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, the rurality of the audience served, and the number of stations in a given market. Under current CPB policy, stations can use CSGs for one of seven categories of expenses: 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 FY2021, CSGs made up 13.2% 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.

National Television Programming Grants — $95.05 million

The Public Broadcasting Act requires a set percentage of the CPB appropriation to go toward “national public television programming.”[2] 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:

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, Washington Week, Wild Kratts and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Additional funding helps CPB support programming that engages, inspires, and educates children and adults.
CPB expands and diversifies the public television audience by supporting the production of diverse primetime and children's broadcast content as well as digital projects. In recent years, CPB funding has supported: The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, a documentary exploring the 400-year history of the Black church; Becoming Helen Keller, a documentary on the life and legacy of the human rights pioneer, with full American Sign Language interpretation, audio description and closed captioning; and Molly of Denali, the first nationally distributed children’s program to feature Native American and Alaska Native lead characters. Support is also provided for translation services for news and election programming to bring younger and more diverse audiences to public television.
Pursuant to the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988, CPB contracts with the 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 also funds the primetime broadcast series Independent Lens, public television's largest showcase of independent films. Recent productions include: Try Harder!, examining college admissions at Lowell High School, a prestigious public high school in San Francisco; and Siqueiros: Walls of Passion, a profile of Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, considered one of the great artists of the 20th century.
CPB funds the five organizations that make up public television's National Multicultural Alliance as part of its commitment to develop and fund quality, culturally diverse programming for the American viewing public. They are: Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), Black Public Media (BPM), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) and Vision Maker Media (VMM). The NMA also includes other producers providing unique programming for radio listeners. These organizations provide much needed content about diverse communities to the public television system. Each organization selects and funds programs by, for and about its community, awarding grants to producers for program production and guiding the projects through distribution on public media.
This fund provides support for public television content that has significant educational or cultural value which viewers are not likely to find elsewhere. The Fund supports American cultural programming like A Capitol Fourth, PBS's annual Fourth of July concert, and the National Memorial Day Concert. Other examples include Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. which explores the ancestry of dozens of influential people from diverse backgrounds. Ken Burns' acclaimed two-part documentary Benjamin Franklin explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential figures and Burns’ U.S. and the Holocaust, a three-part series that examines America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twentieth century.

Public Radio Station and Programming Grants — $127.94 million

“Unrestricted” CSGs — $89.56 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 — $29.43 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.” Many public radio stations use the restricted portion of their CSG to acquire programming from national producers such as NPR, PRX, American Public Media, independent producers and other stations that produce national content.

Taken together, in FY2021, the average public radio station relied on both unrestricted and restricted grants for 7.2% 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, and the amount of funds that stations can raise on their own.[3]

Radio Program Fund — $8.95 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, programming for underserved and unserved audiences, and the development of innovative content forms.

Recent Radio Program Fund projects include:

  • Public media journalism collaborations involving public media stations in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
  • NPR international news coverage and Investigative reporting resources
  • Expansion of Urban Alternative public radio music format that targets younger, diverse audiences
  • StoryCorps’ One Small Step initiative, Military Voices initiative, and Mobile Booth
  • NPR Code Switch
  • WAMU 1A Remaking America
  • Native America Calling and National Native News
  • LAist Studios
  • Live From Cain’s

System Support (or “Six Percent”) Funds — $34.50 million

The Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to use 6% percent of the appropriation for “projects and activities that will enhance public broadcasting”[4]. Also known as “System Support,” these funds help drive leadership among stations, innovation within the system, and collaboration across the system to help ensure effective and efficient programs and services. In addition, System Support funds help to offset certain infrastructure costs mentioned in the Public Broadcasting Act such as interconnection operations and music royalty costs.

The following projects have received funding in past years:

Core System Support

  • TV Interconnection Operation Grants
  • Music Licenses
  • Radio Minority Support
  • Station Resource Planning Research

Professional Development

  • Public Media Workforce Collaborative
  • DEI Support
  • Leadership for Diversity and Inclusion
  • Digital Accelerator Program Extension

Educational Content and Services

  • PBS LearningMedia
  • PBS Distance Learning Support
  • Local Innovations in Station Education Service
  • American Graduate
  • By/With/For Youth- “Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audience”
  • Student Reporting Labs
  • Sesame in Communities


  • Regional Journalism Collaborations
  • Editorial Integrity and Leadership
  • Newsroom Advantage-Report for America
  • State Capital News Survey

Health and Efficiency of Public Media Infrastructure

  • Collaborative Operations & Services (COS) Grants
  • Emergency Relief Grants
  • SSO: Single Sign-On
  • Public Safety Pilot Projects
  • NextGen (ATSC 3.0) Pilot Projects
  • Digital Infrastructure Strategy Expert
  • Media Content
  • ITVS Operational Support
  • NMCA Operational Support
  • World Channel Operations
  • Firelight Documentary Lab Operations
  • PBS Digital Studios Operations


  • Integrated Station Info System Computer Platform
  • Anti-harassment Training
  • Spectrum Policy Research
  • Public Media Conference Support
  • Honoraria for External Review Panel

1 47 U.S.C. 396(k)(7).

2 47 U.S.C. 396(k)(3)(A)(ii).

3 CPB incentivizes funds-matching by providing additional funding to stations that can leverage those dollars further.

4 47 U.S.C. 396(k)(3)(A)(i)(II).

5 7 U.S.C. 396(k)(3)(A)(i)(I).