APTS chief sees renewed battle over CPB aid

By Ben Mook and Andrew Lapin

APTS President Patrick Butler is warning public broadcasters of continued threats to their federal funding this summer as Congress takes up work on appropriations for the next federal budget.

During an appearance at the Public Media Business Association conference this morning, Butler recalled a private meeting with a key House Republican from Georgia who opposes federal aid to CPB.

Rep. Jack Kingston, chair of the House appropriations subcommittee with oversight over CPB, told Butler that he plans to zero-out CPB funding. “He told me point blank, in January, that he was going to do everything he could to eliminate our funding,” Butler said during a PMBA breakfast meeting at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. Public TV’s top lobbyist expects Kingston to introduce the bill in June. “I’m sure there will be a big zero in his bill for public broadcasting,” he said.

Butler, who shared a similar anecdote with pubcasting colleagues during February’s Public Media Summit, doesn’t expect that Kingston’s proposal to zero-out CPB funding will prevail, however. He predicted that CPB will come through this year’s budget cycle with an appropriation of $422 million — the same amount that the corporation received for fiscal 2013 after federal sequestration cuts were imposed.

Congress allocates CPB funding two years in advance of the annual appropriations cycle, and it’s unclear whether Butler was referring to appropriations for fiscal 2014, which have already been set at $445 million, or for 2016, which lawmakers take up with this year’s budget. CPB has requested $445 million for fiscal 2016.

Chris Crawford, a spokesman for Kingston, told Current that the subcommittee’s appropriations bill is still being drafted. Specifics of Kingston’s proposal for CPB won’t be announced until next month.

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