Funding Cuts Leave The Future of PBS in Question

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 9th, 2013 at 1:48 pm,

pbs logo cpb funding cut Funding Cuts Leave The Future of PBS in Question

The latest revision of House Resolution 1, the House of Representatives’ budget-cutting bill for the 2011 fiscal year, removes all federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB is the federal corporation that distributes funds to public broadcasting systems like PBS and NPR.

The resolution is aimed at trimming the entire federal budget and, in February, the resolution was passed in House and is now in the hands of the Senate.

While the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a separate entity from PBS (which in turn is, in most instances, separate from locally-owned public television stations), the Corporation provides a substantial portion of the operating budget for both local stations and public-focused content creators. The elimination of the CPB would make it almost impossible for local PBS affiliates to remain on the air.

Currently, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s annual budget is $422 million. $210 million is split among 350 local public TV stations for operating costs, $71 million goes to the creation of television programming, and $94 million is reserved for NPR and radio programming.

The elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be a sweeping cut that would affect hundreds of millions of Americans. PBS is an important player in the national media, and the only one without a profit-based agenda. Not to mention, PBS represents the primary source of educational programming for low-income children and adults.

sesame street pbs cpb Funding Cuts Leave The Future of PBS in Question

CPB-funded shows like 'Sesame Street' have influenced Americans for generations.

PBS also creates some of the most influential news and entertainment programs in the country, like Frontline, Masterpiece Theatre, and Austin City Limits.

The Public Broadcasting Service also imports shows from all over the world to fill out its schedule; without public television, many Americans would never have been introduced to Doctor Who, Mr Bean, or Are You Being Served. While not as large or influential, PBS is America’s answer to the BBC.

PBS had this to say about the legislation:

The elimination of funding for public broadcasting approved by the House of Representatives threatens millions of citizens throughout America with the loss of services that they rely on, especially parents and children. PBS’ nearly 360 member stations will be severely impacted… PBS and independently owned and operated public television stations are America’s largest classroom, available to all of America’s children. PBS’ educational programming… prepare[s] children for success in school and opens up the world to them in an age-appropriate way and builds critical skills in young students. Costing about one dollar per person per year, public broadcasting is an effective, efficient use of leveraged tax dollars – a public-private partnership that delivers far-reaching services that Americans trust and value.”

PBS Kids Creative Director Chris Bishop released this infographic to illustrate the impact that PBS has on America – click for a larger version:

why save pbs congress 253x430 Funding Cuts Leave The Future of PBS in Question

House Republicans have also passed a bill to cut funding specifically for National Public Radio – after a series of gaffes brought the network’s objectivity into question. The bill is not attached to major legislation like the provisions in HR1, and is expected to be beaten in the Senate.

While the total elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is extremely unlikely while Democrats control the Senate and the presidency, substantial cuts are indeed possible. The budget-conscious nature of the electorate may mean hard times for PBS and its affiliates in the coming years.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Doctor who
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. …and PRAVDA’s U.S. affiliate moves one step closer to existence. We (apparently) welcome you, Big Brother.


  2. Leaves more money to buy strike fighters that will help us combat terrorists in an urban setting.

    the $456 million that Public Broadcasting stations and shows(BTW NPR = $3 Mil) got last year is not even close to the taxes avoided last year by all US corporations.. which totaled $90 Billion.


    • You mean the corporations that produce the jobs that fuel the American economy, while PBS is simply another mouth piece of the DNC?

      • No, just the ones that make insanely high profits, while outsourcing many (if not MOST) of their jobs to other countries. THOSE countries.

        • Well said, Archaeon.

          Those filthy-rich individuals who run the ridiculously profitable American corporations are translating those profits into more jobs for Americans. They’re outsourcing their jobs, moving factories to places with very lax labor laws just so they can make more wealth for the executives to live even more lavish lives.

          People need to stop believing the lies that the wealthy take their subsidies and absurd tax breaks and turn those into jobs. They’re just receiving corporate welfare while continuing to lay off people, and pocketing that money.

          There are corporations are making huge profits (into the billions), but they’re pocketing the money. The CEOs are getting raises and bonuses, even in failed industries, and much of that is coming from tax breaks the government gives them.

          The Republicans know that if they repeat the lie enough, it becomes true — most of their supporters are non-wealthy, uneducated, ignorant, brainwashed individuals who don’t see that they’re being cheated, too. The enemies are not the communist, socialist, liberal Democrats that they so hate, but all the bought-and-sold politicians who serve the wealthy.

          • Hi Michael,

            What is your opinion on Arianna Huffington selling to AOL for $315MM and still wanting bloggers on the site to write for free?

            Just wondering.


            • Hi Vic,

              I have not looked into that, but I did know AOL bought the Huffington Post, and I cringed. The first thought that came to mind was: Well, there goes visiting that site. It’s only all downhill from here.

              And to want bloggers to write for free? I call foul. They should be paid. AOL definitely has enough money floating to pay them.

              But AOL’s going to sink that site into the ground. I didn’t visit it a whole lot, not like I do Screen Rant :), but I did enjoy what I read.

              But post-AOL purchase? There’s one less site I’ll be visting.

        • Agreed, Archaeon.

        • agreed

  3. While certainly not the biggest cut they should be making, if you can’t cut public broadcasting funding, you’re not serious about getting out of our ridiculous debt. It’s unfortunate that neither party in power has been fiscally responsible for a LONG time, but this is our reality.

    • I couldn’t agree more,Tim.The money has run out and we just can’t afford all these programs anymore.

      • Regardless it’s short cited. This goes hand in hand with the funding cuts to the arts in general.

        • Which need to be cut regardless, when you don’t have the money to pay the light bill you don’t go out and spend money on theater tickets.

  4. I can’t think of anything more short cited than this. It would be a shame if this were to pass. And the separate bill to cut funding to NPR radio seems almost childish in nature.

  5. Cry me a river.PBS is a dinosaur and its time has come and gone.

    Can anyone seriously tell me why in the world does Seasame Street need funding?Seasame Street is a cash cow and its not going anywhere.All the other programs you mentioned above,if they have an audience they will be profitable and remain.

    The only real change that will take place is more fund raising and no more commercial free programing.

  6. Edward R.Murrrow Is turning over in his grave… For one there is not enough stations like PBS. Not commercially compromised and can offer a variety of programs. PBS is not as diverse as it use to be but it’s programs are still educational and beneficial. Some of my earliest memories were watching channel 13. They don’t have to worry about ratings or sponsors. If the shows are well received that’s good. The PBS stations can take more liberties.

    • First of all to use the phrase “commercially compromised” in assoiciation with Seasame Street,is laughable.

      Furthermore ever heard of the Discovery Channel,the History Channel,BBC America,the Food Network,and many others?PBS isn’t going anywhere,its just going to have to be self sufficent.

      • If I may play devil’s advocate: all the channels you mentioned are on cable. Low-income people who can’t afford cable don’t really have anywhere but PBS to turn to for educational programming – they’d be stuck with The Biggest Loser and CSI without it. And even that wouldn’t bother me if it weren’t for kids’ shows: broadcast cartoons have been inexcusable crap for years, and I’m sure parents appreciate that they can turn on PBS without having to worry what their children will see.

        • My point was that their is a market for such programs.PBS can get funding from other outlets to fund their programing other than the federal government.Why?Because their is a market for such programing.

          Also,if your cocerned about the poor not having access to PBS,double up on your donations so that not just your family may enjoy PBS but others who are less fortunate may enjoy it as well.

        • I’d best steer clear of this one – but I will say that Sesame Street/PBS make a TON of money off merchandising.

          I don’t think the gov’t should be funding anything that produces news.


          • Very True, look at all the shows that PBS has in their roster that are making tons of money and it is all TAX FREE. Remember PBS doesnt pay a penny in taxes, if you can’t keep something like that afloat then either you need to lay off all the high paid executives that are crying to their PAC lobbyist who give money to Washington to get more money to spend.

            • How are they making tons if money on their programming? PBS is a not for profit organization with almost 60% of their funding coming from pledge drives and individual donations.

  7. Times they are a changing,,,

  8. Ok. First of all let’s get this straight.

    Republicans and Democrats do nothing but throw mud at each other all day at the expense of the guy on the street.The thing is if this is allowed to happen,the democrats will turn right around and take one of our “fun” things and raise taxes on it. This is how these asinine groups work. I’m amazed that folks in this country haven’t noticed how the folks in D.c. have been running things since 1983?? WTF. C’ unless any of you have kids who ARE NOT PLAYING ON AN XBOX OR PS3 all frickin day,and love to get up early and watch tv like us old folk used to(I’m 38),PBS is the only station on regular tv that has any type of CONSISTENT daytime television programming.I love me some NETFLIX but they still don’t have all of the shows that my kid likes. Its basic free television that as an American we never EVER HAD TO PAY FOR!! the republicans are basically doing exactly what they have been preachin against and that is getting way to involved in our private life. There are bigger fish to fry out there especially where the budget is cocerned and frankly if we were to actually SEE what they were trying to budget for it would be a different matter altogether.

    • If you didn’t want the government to get involved in your private life then you shouldn’t be asking them to fund PBS in the first place. Just one major flaw in your argument. Among many others.

  9. This is really stupid. The funding for NPR is a drop in the bucket of federal funding. Everyone knows that FOX news and conservative talk radio have it in for NPR, as they claim it’s Ultra-Liberal. Sad, since it’s actually one of the least biased sources of information. If they were REALLY serious, they would cut defense spending. You know, since it is THE LARGEST budget item.

  10. No publicly funded organisation has the right to demand money from the governement, it is a gift and in times of economic hard ships you cut back on programs that are not vital to the US, and guess what, NPR is not necessary, maybe 25 years ago you could male the argument but not in todays media.

    • Your thoughts across the board that I’ve read in the comments are awfully narrow. When it comes to television programming, I credit PBS solely with being the springboard during my youth for my college career and success at entrepreneurship. To argue that spending $1 a year per person is too much in hard times when we’ve got lots of blood on our hands globally is ridiculous. Especially when the cut hurts organizations that educate, enrich, and inspire our civilization versus emptying wallets, brainwashing, and influencing narcissism, materialism, excess consumption, and violence on a large scale.

      You hold PBS/CPB responsible for their fiscal actions, but is that not a sincere requirement of our leaders? It may be “fiscally responsible” to cut funding in education/public broadcasting while cutting taxes for the wealthiest and corporations in lieu of keeping our military tangled in messy wars, but does that really make sense to you? If it does, why on earth is it acceptable to you?

      I argue that no publicly funded entity has the right to do as it will with our tax dollars if it is not in the best interest of the public. But people who have similar thought patterns as yourself would probably seem to believe it’s okay because the government or a party or a politician says so.

      All of these cuts all seem to have the same magic formula of increasing the hold private organizations have on our lives, for better or (often) worse, while diminishing our ability to provide crucial services to the broad majority of the people in this country who seem to be good enough to be drained dry for their tax dollars but not to have a voice, or even the support of concerned neighbors.

      What’s happened to us? They at least deserve reason and logic in their defense. Why are some of us so willing to let things get flushed down the toilet cuz a few smarmy jerks rigged the system, caused it’s collapse, and are now walking away wealthier than before yet crying that we’re all broke for what appears to be the sole purpose of degrading public programs?

      • I don’t think you are going to get much sympathy from this bunch. I don’t think people understand the importance of these types of programs. Like I said before it would be incredibly short cited. Aren’t we dumb enough already?

        Further more, of you consider that GM just got a 14 Billion dollar tax break despite being able to shed around $30 billion in debt during bankruptcy proceedings – it just makes you wonder what the priorities are in this country.

        • Chris,

          Just so you know, I don’t believe that GM nor the banks should have gotten a bailout. If you run your company into the ground, or allow unions to bankrupt your company, then you should have to accept the consequences and go under.

          Stronger companies that were better-managed will step up to fill the space left behind.


          • Not bailing out the banks would have tanked the world economy. On the other hand, the banks also caused a good part of it, including what’s going on in Europe at the moment. And they’re still at it, buying off Democrats and Republicans alike in Washington. Watch the PBS Frontline series on the economic crisis, Money, Power and Wall Street, all 5 or 6 hours of it. No other media has covered the story with this kind of insight and depth. Fearlessly, I might add. Not surprising that you can’t get the story elsewhere, since banks, Wall Street and other such interests own all other media, from Fox to the NY Times. The Frontline series alone is worth $1 per American.

  11. If we are so strapped for cash that we can’t afford to keep public broadcasting funded, then why CAN afford to keep being the world’s police??? Personally I’m tired of it and so is my pocketbook.

  12. I spent hours daily watching PBS as a child during the 70′s…there was some really great programming back then. I had stopped watching by the time the gang at Sesame Street met Snuffy. I wasn’t there when (The Evil) Elmo was introduced ( whose idea was he ?? ), but The educational programming was fantastic, and the comedy programs…I loved Ernie Kovacs, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, The Goodies… I guess I stopped watching PBS daily by the time I was 7 or 8. Back then we didn’t have cable, I suppose when we did get cable ( a few channels ) I didn’t have to rely on PBS as much for my entertainment.

    If PBS is eliminated Americans will become even stupider. And their senses of humour will suffer. Everybody loses

    Just another sign of the End Times…

    Andy sad

    • Absolutely agreed…

  13. Is there a specific reason that PBS can’t start trying to supplement budget cuts with advertising? I’m sure there are some companies with products/services that are at least somewhat in line with PBS.

  14. Never watched PBS and got along well enough with it. This isn’t to say I don’t think it will be a loss though, but I never thought it was the best that an educational channel could offer.

  15. As more people embrace the mind numbing mainstream cheetos tv programming, the more your going to loose free tv, (too late) and channels like PBS.
    PBS is the Whole Foods market of tv and like the real Whole Foods it has been bought out by Monsanto.

  16. @Chris,,,
    “it just makes you wonder what the priorities are in this country.”

    I think its clear that our culture especally children, are being dumbed down through tv and our freedoms are being taken from out under us in the name of safety.

    That’s pretty much what’s going on.

  17. I tell you what..No more ACL or Doctor Who??Or Masterpiece Theater?? or Faulty Towers?? Bastards..Well someone better explain this to the baby boomers who fund PBS,MPT and other local stations..They’re already losing their social security and now they want to take their tv shows..what’s next?

  18. Public broadcasting is a dinosaur. The fact that it has provided some wonderful programming over the past decades is now irrelevant. I’m willing to concede that their programming would never have been sponsored in the 3-network world of former decades. Today however, there are so many channels on TV (and computers) that there’s no reason their programs shouldn’t continue successfully on either a for-profit or non-profit station.

    I also have an issue with the liberal bias of these stations (at least in NY where I live — and I assume most other places). My tax dollars shouldn’t be funding a single political point of view.

    • You have missed the point. Many people don’t have access to cable television let alone computers and everything else you are mentioning computes internet etc. I am sure the $1 isn’t going to kill you. And if you don’t like the liberal bias then don’t watch. Sounds like you access to all of the wonderful shows that are on the big 3 networks, you know shows like Biggest Loser and Secret Millionaire.

  19. PBS, NPR, and CPB need to be saved, no questions. Public funding adds a check which ensures neutrality at the threat of reductions or dismantling.

    • If there’s one thing NPR isn’t, it’s neutral. The head guy just had to resign over some really nasty things he said that reflected his “neutral” views.


      • Neutral no. His comments certainly ring true though.

        • Yeah, whatever.

          • The Tea Party are a frightening bunch and the birthers well I won’t even say because that is too ridiculous to even comprehend.

            • Chris,

              Tea Party and Birthers = two different things – but thanks for lumping them together as your side is apt to do. All the Tea Party wants is smaller government and to get the insane, out of control spending under control. I also love all the talk of violence and racism related to the Tea Party when there’s virtually no racism that has been seen and zero violence – compared to the wonderful protesters in Wisconsin (folks on YOUR side, aren’t they?) who are destroying property, burning people in effigy and sending death threats to the the governor and others in office.

              Of course virtually NONE of that has made the news, has it?

              You really should go get your movie and TV news over at HuffPo, you’ll be much happier there.’


  20. I am not on any Vic. All I will say about insane spending is that going after NPR for example and the people who are already hurting (Wisconsin) doesn’t really make sense to me when you consider the hundreds of millions in tax breaks that the big corporations continue to get and military spending.

    To be honest Vic I like this site, I don’t really need to go to HuffPo just because you say I will be happier there, and it should go without saying that I didn’t really expect to get into arguments about politics on this site.

    That being said that’s all I have to say about this.


    • Chris,

      People who work for the gov’t get big fat juicy pensions that are bankrupting states and their salaries have risen to match or exceed the private sector. I don’t have a pension but I’m not crying about it. As to corporations – when I hear Obama’s buddies at GE don’t pay any taxes at the end of the day it aggravates the hell out of ME, too.

      In any case, as you say, enough about that.



      • I know I said we are done with this but I have to say that we can agree on this. The tax breaks to GE and GM (over 10B) to name a few are just too much to fathom. Given how most of us are struggling to make ends meet it doesn’t sit well. GE was given some tax breaks for alternative energy solutions or innovations but still would it kill these guys to contribute a little bit?

        Keep up the good work.


  21. I don’t agree that PBS should lose funding. I don’t know what NPR is and frankly couldn’t care less. My children do not come from an underpriveleged home in any way. But, PBS is the station they watch regularly. Quality, educational shows such as word world, super why?, and the cat in the hat knows a lot about that, can not be found on any other station. Most children’s programming on stations like nickelodeon, the cartoon network, and even Disney, are crap. If it isn’t mindless, it is teaching poor morals to children when they watch these stations. My children and I would be devastated to see PBS go. Keep funding PBS!

  22. If PBS were to lose Federal Funding, I believe it would still remain afloat because of its frequent on-air fundraising events. If in turn, fundraising couldn’t manage to save PBS, I think one of the major broadcasting corps would buy up the rights to shows like Sesame Street. Last time I checked, cable is not required for access to the local affiliates of these stations. So, either way, kids will not lose Big Bird or Sesame Street, especially since most public libraries have Sesame Street available on DVD, and maybe even still on video.

  23. Like public education PBS focus was to indoctrinate the young into an affirmative action mindset. Like T-Ball, everyone gets a trophy. Only an idiot wouldn’t see the brainwashing.
    There is nothing wrong with excellence. Let PBS live or die in the marketplace, you all defend it because you know it wouldn’t last a year.

    • The sad thing is that you believe the blubber oozing from your mouth. A pity.