Congress allots $25 million ‘stabilization’ aid to stations

CPB will get $25 million for “fiscal stabilization” grants to aid public TV and radio stations this year, a House-Senate conference committee decided last week. The number was a compromise between the House’s $40 million figure and the Senate’s $10 million.

With the Senate acting Saturday, Congress has now sent to the White House a package of six funding bills for the fiscal year that began Nov. 1.

“Given the unprecedented negative budget climate, with concern about deficits growing each day, APTS is especially thankful to Congress for recognizing the enormous fiscal pressures on public broadcasting stations during these tough economic times,” said APTS President Larry Sidman.

The stabilization funding falls far short of CPB’s request for emergency station assistance — $307 million, including $211 million for public TV and $96 million for pubradio.

Stations will benefit, however, from slow but steady increases in CPB appropriations over the next three years, compared to amounts hovering around $400 million for four years:

  • $420 million for this year, fiscal 2010, appropriated by Congress two years ago;
  • $430 million for FY11, appropriated last year;
  • $445 million for FY12, approved by the conference committee last week. It’s 3.5 percent more than for FY11.

In sum, over three years, CPB will have an 11 percent increase in the basic appropriation.

Along with the advance appropriation for CPB, the conference committee had earlier approved other budget lines for fiscal year 2010:

  • $36 million for digital conversion costs;
  • $25 million to upgrade the public radio interconnection system;
  • $27.3 million for Ready to Learn literacy projects, an increase of $1.9 million over last year.
  • $10.7 million for Ready to Teach, the online teacher-training program.

“APTS is particularly grateful to Chairmen David Obey, Daniel Inouye and Tom Harkin, and Ranking Member Thad Cochran for their extraordinary leadership in supporting much-needed and necessary funding,” Sidman said in a news release.

Sidman also credited Reps. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Betty McCollum (D-Mn.), Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) for their support of public broadcasting’s fiscal stabilization request.

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