CPB FAQ

Question or comment about the scheduling of a program?

Contact your local station because all scheduling decisions are made locally.

Questions about CPB

What is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)?

What is the difference between CPB, PBS, and NPR?

How is CPB funded?

How can I make a donation to CPB?

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?

Does CPB take programming suggestions?

How is CPB governed?

Questions about Public Media

Who pays for public media?

Who creates the programs on public media?

Who operates the stations?

How many public media stations are there?

When does a program air?

How can I get a program on the air?

How can I support public media?

Questions about Grants

What kind of programming does CPB fund?

How can I request grants or funding for programming?

Does CPB fund projects outside of the United States?

Can I request grants or funding for a radio station?

Can I request grants or funding for a television station?

Questions about CPB

What is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)?

CPB is the steward of the federal government's investment in public media and supports the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations. Learn more here.

What is the difference between CPB, PBS, and NPR?

CPB is a private nonprofit corporation created and funded by the federal government and is the steward of federal funding for public media. CPB does not produce or distribute programs, nor does it own, control or operate any broadcast stations.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned by its member public television stations. PBS distributes programming to nearly 350 locally owned and operated public television stations across the country and is funded principally by these member stations and by CPB.

NPR is an award-winning, nonprofit organization that produces and distributes news, information, and cultural programming across broadcast and digital platforms. Launched in 1970 as a radio network by a group of 90 public radio stations, NPR today has 264 member stations that, as independent entities, own and operate 989 stations nationwide and reach more than 36 million people every week.

How is CPB funded?

CPB is a private nonprofit corporation that is fully funded by the federal government. Ninety-five percent of CPB's appropriation goes directly to local public media stations, content development, community services, and other local station and system needs. Less than five percent is allocated to administrative costs – an exceptionally low overhead rate compared with other nonprofits. 

CPB’s appropriation originates with the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittees of the Appropriations Committees in Congress. CPB receives a two-year advance appropriation, which means that Congress makes the decision on the amount of federal support for public broadcasting two years ahead of the fiscal year in which the funding is allocated. In other words, Congress approved the FY 2018 funding level for CPB during the FY 2016 appropriations process. This is done in order to insulate content from political pressure, to allow for advance planning and to help stations leverage funds from other sources.

For more information on our appropriation please see: Federal Appropriation.

How can I make a donation to CPB?

While CPB does receive donations from time to time, every public media station relies on audience support to fund its programs and operations. We invite you to consider supporting your local public media station. You can find station information here:  http://www.cpb.org/cpb-station-finder

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?

Federal funding is essential to the funding mix that supports public broadcasting. Public media is a public-private partnership in the best tradition of America’s free enterprise system

Federal funds, distributed through CPB grants to local stations, provide critical seed money and basic operating support. Stations leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from other sources — including state and local governments, philanthropic foundations, private businesses, and universities — a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.

CPB, in addition to direct payment to public media stations, pays for the system’s technical backbone, copyright and other fees, and makes major investments in national content from which all stations and the families they serve benefit.

Specifically, the annual federal investment in public media assures universal access to public media’s educational programming and public services for all Americans, as mandated by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

Does CPB take programming suggestions?

By law CPB is prohibited from producing or broadcasting programming. Please contact PBS or NPR or your local station with your program suggestions.

How is CPB governed?

A Board of Directors governs CPB, sets policy and establishes programming priorities. The President of the United States appoints each board member, who, after confirmation by the U.S. Senate, serves a six-year term. The board, in turn, appoints the president and chief executive officer, who then names the other corporate officers.

Questions about Public Media

Who pays for public media?

Individual contributions are the largest source of revenue for public media entities, which primarily come through membership donations to local stations. CPB also supports local public media stations. In fact, by law, 95 percent of CPB's appropriation from the federal government goes to support local television and radio stations, programming, and improvements to the public broadcasting system. Other sources of funding include state and local governments and educational institutions, philanthropic foundations and other non-profit organizations, private businesses, and private colleges and universities.

Who creates the programs?

The programs that you hear and see on your favorite public broadcasting stations come from a variety of sources including PBS, NPR, American Public Media, the National Minority Consortia, local stations such as WGBH, WNET, WBEZ and WNYC, as well as many other independent producers. CPB does not produce or broadcast programs. CPB awards grants to a variety of producers to create programs that air on public media stations.

Who operates the stations?

Public media stations are operated by a variety of licensees including non-profit community organizations, public and private colleges and universities, local school districts and state governments. By law CPB does not own, operate or control any broadcast stations.

How many public media stations are there?

Nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public media stations receive support from CPB. You can find your station here.

When does a program air?

Contact your local station to find out when a program is scheduled to air. You can find your station here. Many programs are also available to view or listen to online at your convenience.

How can I get a program on the air?

There are many ways to get programs on the air. CPB invests limited funds in the production of innovative, diverse content that aligns with CPB’s mission—to provide universal access to high-quality educational programming, especially to underserved audiences. CPB-supported content must be distributed through public media outlets, and with that in mind, collaborative ventures between independent producers and public media stations are highly encouraged. 

Depending on the scope of the program, producers may complete the project on their own, or may require assistance from additional funders or a radio or television distributor. If more funding is required at this stage, it may be appropriate to seek a grant from CPB and/or additional sources. Producers then have to pitch their program to a public media distributor who may market the program to broadcast stations throughout the country.

How can I support public media?

Public media stations fund the content and services they provide to communities across the country with support from CPB’s federal appropriation and with contributions from individuals and underwriters.  

By law, 95 percent of the federal appropriation CPB receives is provided as grants to local television and radio stations, programming, and improvements to the public broadcasting system.

CPB appreciates your interest in learning how to support public media and encourages you to consider contributing  to your local public television and radio stations. You can find your local station information here.

For information about other ways to support public media, you may contact PBS through PBS.org, NPR at NPR.org, and the Association for Public Television’s “Protect My Public Media” at protectmypublicmedia.org.

Questions about Grants

What kind of programming does CPB fund?

CPB invests limited funds in the production of innovative, diverse content that aligns with public media’s mission—to provide universal access to high-quality educational programming in the United States, especially to underserved audiences. CPB-supported content must be distributed through public media outlets, and with that in mind, collaborative ventures between independent producers and public media stations are highly encouraged. 

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. CPB’s strategic priorities call for programming that focuses on advancing journalism, education, innovation, diversity and content for unserved and underserved communities.

How can I request grants or funding for programming?

CPB considers projects from producers with experience creating nationally recognized work. Productions or collaborative ventures between independent producers and public media stations are encouraged. CPB-supported content must be distributed through U.S. public media outlets. Funding is subject to the availability of funds and system content needs.

CPB also funds the Independent Television Service (ITVS), AIR (the Association of Independents in Radio), the National Minority Consortia and other public media organizations that support independent producers. Check our list of other potential funding sources for more.

If you are a producer looking to secure CPB funding for a project, read about our Content and Production Grants and email grants@cpb.org for more information. You may also find issue-specific grants on the Grants & RFPs page.

For updates on grants, follow @CPBmedia on Twitter or sign up for email updates.

Does CPB fund projects outside of the United States?

Public media’s mission is to provide universal access to high-quality educational programming in the U.S. Generally, CPB does not fund non-U.S. productions, unless co-produced by a U.S. entity.

Can I request grants or funding for a radio station?

The Radio Community Service Grant (CSG) program may accept a limited number of new radio stations each year during a defined application period. To qualify for a grant from CPB, a radio station must meet a set of eligibility criteria in addition to operating under a noncommercial educational license granted by the U.S. government.

For more, see the Radio CSG General Provisions and Eligibility Criteria and email grants@cpb.org.

Can I request grants or funding for a television station?

CPB provides annual funding to public television stations through the Community Service Grant program, but is not accepting applications for new stations at this time, except by waiver.

For more information, go to the Television CSG General Provisions and Eligibility Criteria.