Federal Funding for Public Media Threatened

The Administration's FY 2018 budget blueprint, released March 16, proposes to end future funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  The blueprint outlines the President’s budget priorities and marks the beginning of the annual budget and appropriation process.  Next, Congress will review the President’s budget and establish, through the annual appropriations process, spending levels for programs for FY 2018. 

IPR's Myrna Johnson calls proposed budget cuts "cause for concern."

This year, 8% ($600,000) of IPR’s budget comes from CPB.  CPB funds are an important part of IPR’s funding mix, helping us deliver news you can trust from Iowa and around the world, civil discussions about the issues facing our communities, and the very best in classical and new music. Iowa Public Radio, and public radio and television stations across the country, rely on CPB funding to serve virtually every community in our country.  CPB funding helps us leverage private and local support.  System-wide, public radio stations raise $6 for every $1 provided by CPB.  Below is more information on CPB and what we know now about this potential loss of federal funding.

Take Action Now

If you’d like to weigh in in support of CPB funding, please sign the petition and share it with your friends and networks to share your support for IPR and public media.

What We Know Now

  • The Trump Administration’s FY 2018 budget blueprint released March 16 proposes to end future funding for public broadcasting.  
  • This includes “zeroing out” the appropriation that was previously approved for FY 2018 and FY 2019 (appropriation for CPB is booked two years in advance, which is designed to provide a buffer between funding and changes in the political climate).
  • Funding for the current fiscal year, FY 2017, has been distributed to the CPB, and payments have been made to stations, including IPR stations.
  • Annual funding for the CPB has been level at $445 million for several years. That amounts to about $1.35 per American taxpayer per year.
  • The federal government is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. 

This step is the first in a long journey to decide funding levels for the federal government. Ultimately, Congress will make final decisions on continuing the annual federal investment in the public broadcasting system. We are keeping a close eye on these developments and will update you as we learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions about CPB

What is CPB's role in public broadcasting?
The CPB is distinct from both NPR and PBS. It is not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967 with two primary functions: to serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting, and to help fund programming, stations and technology.  CPB funds public radio stations, who then in turn produce local programming and purchase national and international programs from NPR and other public radio program producers and distributors.

How much CPB funding does Iowa Public Radio receive?
This year, about 8 percent ($600,000) of IPR’s budgeted revenue will come from the CPB in the form of Community Service Grants to the station groups (owned by Iowa State University, University of Iowa, and the University of Northern Iowa) that make up Iowa Public Radio. 

What would happen if IPR lost CPB funding?
If the CPB was eliminated, we would not only lose the Community Service Grants to our stations, but we would need to raise additional funds to cover our share of other expenses the CPB currently pays for – the satellite system, music rights and more. 

IPR stations receive a little more than $600,000 in Community Service Grants. That is more than 50% of the $1.1 M we pay annually for all national programming, such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, A Prairie Home Companion, World Café and Performance Today. It would be a significant bite out of our budget.

We would look to our listeners and corporate supporters to help us close the gap, but expect that cuts of this magnitude could lead to staff reductions and programming service changes, diminishing the services that we provide our listeners.

Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?
Federal funding is an essential portion of the funding mix that supports public broadcasting. CPB funding provides critical seed money and basic operating support to local stations, which then leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise over $6 from local sources — a tremendous return on the taxpayer investment.

Federal funding provides essential support for public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality, non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences.

In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming – and with such small populations they often rely more heavily on federal funding. Without it, these stations would likely be unable to continue to provide local communities with news, information, cultural and educational programming that they currently provide, and could even go off the air altogether.

In addition, the CPB helps negotiate music rights for all public stations and provides administrative support, allowing stations to aggregate together for cost-effective sharing of information, research and services.

Where can I learn more? And how can I make myself heard?
A strong, diverse base of grassroots advocates is essential to ensuring the retention of federal funding. A great resource is the Protect My Public Media website. There, you can sign and share a petition urging Congress to protect funding for public broadcasting.

Now, more than ever, the reliable, trusted voice of public radio is vital.  And now, more than ever, it’s essential that every listener contribute as generously as possible.  If you’re already a donor, thank you.  If not, now is a great time to join and show your support. 

If you would like to reach out to Iowa’s Senators or Representatives, their contact information follows:

Senator Charles Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3744

Senator Joni Ernst
111 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-3254

Representative Rod Blum
1108 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20515
(202) 225-2911

Representative Steve King
2210 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, D.C 20515
(202) 225-4426

Representative Dave Loebsack
1527 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-6576

Representative David Young
240 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-5476