Donald Trump’s newly-proposed 2019 budget includes an end to federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding for PBS and NPR. The proposal will slowly eliminate the funding to the institutions over a two year period, with its logic being that the CPB only offers a small part of the funding for PBS and NPR through grants, while the rest comes from private donations.
This follows Trump’s March 2017 proposal to completely eliminate the CPB. At that time, CPB President Patricia Harrison said: “We will work with the new administration and Congress in raising awareness that elimination of federal funding to CPB begins the collapse of the public media system itself and the end of the essential national service.”
Harrison continued by saying the CPB was one of America’s best investments. “There is no viable substitute for federal funding that ensures Americans have universal access to public media’s educational and informational programming and services.”
PBS CEO Paula Kerger made the following statement after learning of the proposal:
“Public broadcasting has earned bipartisan Congressional support over the years thanks to the value we provide to taxpayers. PBS, our 350 member stations and our legions of local supporters will continue to remind leaders in Washington of the significant benefits the public receives in return for federal funding, a modest investment of about $1.35 per citizen per year, which include school readiness for kids 2-8, support for teachers and homeschoolers, public safety communications and lifelong learning. PBS is focused on providing high-quality content and universal public service to the American people, which is why we enjoy strong support in every region of the country, in both rural and urban areas, and across the political spectrum.”
In 2012, after Mitt Romney proposed cutting funding to the stations, the Washington Post cited that PBS 15 percent of its budget from the government, and NPR just 2 percent. Combined, the funding to the stations which the GOP has been trying to cut for decades typically adds up to about .015 percent of the federal budget. The total yearly budget of the CPB is roughly around $445 million per year, which in turn, according to TIME, would cost each American taxpayer about $1.37 per year.
The CPB also said these cuts would affect emergency alert systems along with childhood programming. With that said, since the majority of funding comes from private donations, a federal phasing out of the CPB wouldn’t mean the end of NPR or PBS, but they would certainly lose reach and channels. In July, when faced with this eventual proposal for defunding, Kerger said: “PBS will not go away, but a number of our stations will.”
The government, with overwhelming support by the GOP-led house and senate, recently okayed the largest military budget increase since 2002, with the Pentagon seeing $1.4 trillion in funds over the next two years in addition to a tax overhaul that will send 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent of earners.