CPB’s Federal Appropriation Request & Justification

Detailed FY 2025/2027 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 fully funds CPB’s request for a $595 million advance appropriation for FY 2027, the statutory categories under the Public Broadcasting Act would be funded as follows:

Specific Allocations


Public Television Station and Programming Grants
$397.16 million

Direct Station Grants (TV CSGs) — $297.87 million

The size of each station's Community Service Grant 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 programming, production and services in the following categories: 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 FY2022, CSGs made up 13.4% 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 — $99.29 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 and producers 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 funds:

  • General programming: The Public Broadcasting Act tasks CPB with supporting telecommunications services that “will constitute an expression of diversity” and to “encourage the development of programming that involves creative risks and that addresses the needs of unserved and underserved audiences, particularly children and minorities.” CPB defines diversity broadly as Congress implied in the Act, including geography, age, economic status, ethnicity, gender, race, ability/disability, and point of view. Recently, CPB funding has supported: GOSPEL, exploring the origin story of Black spirituality through sermon and song; Alma’s Way, a preschool children's animated series focusing on 6-year-old Alma Rivera in her diverse neighborhood in the Bronx; and Southern Storytellers, a documentary series exploring Southern identity through the eyes of contemporary artists and writers. 

  • National Program Service: CPB funds the National Program Service (NPS) to support children's and prime-time television programming such as American Experience, American Masters, PBS NewsHour, NOVA, Nature, FRONTLINE, Washington Week With The Atlantic, Wild Kratts, and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.

  • Independent Television Service (ITVS): Pursuant to the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988, CPB contracts with the Independent Television Service (ITVS) to support independent producers and production entities. ITVS also funds the primetime broadcast series Independent Lens, public television's largest showcase of independent films. Recent productions include: Matter of Mind: My Parkinson’s, showing how three people navigate Parkinson’s disease; If Dreams Were Lightning: Rural Healthcare Crisis, which explores the lives of people living in the rural South with limited or no access to healthcare; and Space: The Longest Goodbye , on how NASA psychologists prepare astronauts for the extreme isolation of a three-year-long mission to Mars. 

  • National Multicultural Alliance: 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). Each organization selects and funds programs by and about its community, awarding grants to producers for program production and guiding the projects through distribution on public media, providing access to stories that help all Americans learn more about each other. 


Public Radio Station and Programming Grants — $132.39 million

“Unrestricted” CSGs — $92.67 million

Radio Community Service Grants contain 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. 

In FY2022, the average public radio station relied on both unrestricted and restricted grants for 6.8% 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]

“Restricted” CSGs — $30.45 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. 

Radio Program Fund — $9.27 million

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 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 

  • WAMU 1A Remaking America 

  • Native America Calling and National Native News

  • LAist Studios 

System Support (or “Six Percent”) Funds — $35.70 million

The Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to use 6% 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, such as music licenses, radio minority support, station resource planning research.  

  • Professional Development, such as the Digital Transformation Program, the Public Media Workforce Collaborative, the Editorial Integrity and Leadership Initiative, conference support, anti-harassment training 

  • Educational Content and Services, such as the U.S. History and U.S. Civics Collections, PBS LearningMedia; local innovations in station education service; American Graduate: Jobs Explained; By/With/For Youth: Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audience. 

  • Journalism, such as Regional Journalism Collaborations, including collaborations to increase coverage of state government.  

  • Health and Efficiency of Public Media Infrastructure , including the Collaborative Operations & Services (COS) grants, emergency relief grants; Single Sign-On; public safety pilot projects; NextGen (ATSC 3.0) pilot projects; operational support for ITVS, NMCA, WORLD Channel, Firelight Documentary Lab and PBS Digital Studios; and the Integrated Station Information System Computer Platform. 

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).