Feb 6, 2006

Surprise, surprise: Pubcasters may have another federal funding crisis on their hands. President Bush's $2.77 trillion budget for 2007, released earlier today, cuts CPB's 2007 appropriation from $400 million to $346.5 million and includes none of the $65 million pubcasters requested for digital transition and satellite system funding. It also would slightly cut Ready to Learn funding, from $24.5 million in 2006 to $24 million for 2007, and includes no money for either Ready to Teach ($11 million in 2006) or the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program ($22 million in 2006), a valuable grant source both for hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast pubcasters and for smaller stations still completing digital build-outs. "If enacted, these FY 2007 funding levels would represent a 24.7 percent reduction from CPB's FY 2006 levels, and would be felt in all CPB programs, including station CSGs,"CPB President Pat Harrison said in a statement. ". . . Needless to say, we at CPB are very disappointed by the funding levels for public broadcasting recommended in the President's budget." The White House also proposed a $50 million cut to CPB's $400 million 2008 appropriation and, as has been typical for this Administration, called for no advance CPB funding--the Public Broadcasting Act mandates that CPB appropriations be set two years in advance. "Rather than embrace the overwhelming, bi-partisan majority who supported public broadcasting a few months ago," APTS said in a statement, "the Administration is charging ahead in laying the foundation for the elimination of public broadcasting in America." Congress will take the President's budget recommendations under advisement as they begin writing budget bills in a few months. FY 2007 begins Oct. 1, 2006, but federal budgets are rarely finalized before the beginning of the fiscal year. The 2006 budget, for example, wasn't completed until last December. CPB's budget request to Congress, which it will send to the Hill this week, calls for a $430 million advance appropriation for FY 2009; and $40 million for digital conversion, $36 million for television interconnection, and $32 million for Ready to Learn for FY 2007. See also the New York Times and Bloomberg.
Public radio consultant John Sutton rounds up some mixed thoughts. Among them: "A key question for program directors today -- 'Is the program I have on the air right now better than any of the programs sitting on the listener's iPod?'"
A fire destroyed the studio equipment of KOOP-FM in Austin, Texas, Saturday, knocking the station off the air temporarily. KOOP's building suffered damage in another fire only a month ago. (See video of the fire on the website of Austin's News8 TV station.)