Friday, July 10, 2009

Some good news

Today, the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee (“Labor-HHS”) approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 appropriations bill that provides funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and other public broadcasting programs.

The legislation approved by the subcommittee this morning provides CPB a $440 million advance appropriation for FY 2012 (a $10 million increase over FY 2011), as well as $36 million for digital conversion and $25 million for the public radio interconnection system for FY 2010. In addition, the bill provides $40 million for grants to public television and radio stations to maintain local programming and services and preserve jobs threatened by declines in non-federal revenue sources during the current economic decline. Finally, the legislation provides $25.4 million in funding for Ready To Learn (RTL). (These numbers should be considered tentative as the Subcommittee has not yet released bill text or report language.)

We realize the Subcommittee had to make many difficult decisions in allocating resources, given the economic situation facing our country. As such, we are grateful to Chairman Obey, Ranking Member Tiahrt and the other members of the Subcommittee for the funding contained in the bill and for acknowledging the vital service public broadcasting provides to the American people. In particular, the Subcommittee’s support for the two-year advance appropriation will afford public broadcasters a measure of certainty in their business planning and serves as an important firewall ensuring editorial independence in programming decisions. Furthermore, we appreciate the Subcommittee’s recognition of the precarious financial situation of the industry by providing $40 million in emergency funding to local stations that are struggling with severe revenue shortfalls as a result of the economic downturn.

The next step for the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill is consideration by the full House Appropriations Committee, tentatively scheduled for July 17th. The Senate Appropriations Committee could begin marking up its version of this legislation as early as July 21st.

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