The saga of public broadcasting funding on the federal level continues.
Since the U.S. House voted to restore $100 million to the public broadcasting appropriation on June 23, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted July 14 to restore even more.
The Senate committee now has restore all Corporation of Public Broadcasting funds and other public broadcasting cuts that were not part of the U.S.
House-passed appropriation bill to the Senate version of the appropriations.
The Senate proposal now includes the restoration of $400 million in FY (fiscal year) 2008 advance funding for CPB as well as $35 million in FY 2006 to assist stations in meeting the federally mandated conversion to digital television and a $40 million installment for replacement of public televisionÂ¹s aging satellite interconnection system. (Federal funds have historically paid for public broadcasting interconnect systems.) Also approved were $25 million for Ready To Learn, a slight increase in that program, and $11 million for Ready To Teach.
The actions in both houses were in response to an attempt by a House subcommittee to slash more than $200 million in public broadcasting funding, a 45 percent cut from the previous year.
The Senate version also includes the PTFP and Rural Digital grant moneys, not in the House bill. The two grant programs together, in the current federal fiscal year, total a little more than $31 million. Each of these has been a critical source of money for IdahoPTVÂ¹s efforts to convert to digital broadcasting and extend our signal to rural areas of the state. Without those two unique granting programs, a lot of our rural facilities would not have happened.
Still to come, a vote by the entire Senate, an August recess, a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences between the two versions of the appropriation bills and a final vote on what the appropriations will be.
Then it would go to the President for his signature. There are still hurdles ahead. At press time, the situation is encouraging although precarious.
Is public broadcasting worth the federal governmentÂ¹s investment of a little more than $1.00 per citizen per year? The U.S. public certainly thinks so.
A Roper poll conducted earlier this year showed that 82 percent of the American public feels the federal funds invested in public broadcasting is money well spent. The poll also shows a majority of the public believes the federal investment in public broadcasting should be greater.
We will keep you updated as events change. Look for my messages, called The Buzz, on our Web site idahoptv.org or watch for them on-air.
This is a critical turning point for public broadcasting. So, folks, remember, a free, democratic society only works if the people speak out and let their opinions be heard. We encourage you to exercise that right responsibly.
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