Press Release

With PBS Funding Eliminated In House Spending Bill, Gillibrand Pushing For $575 Million For Public Broadcasting

Mar 14, 2024

Funding Cuts Could Put Future Of Beloved Shows Like Sesame Street At Risk

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is leading a bipartisan push for $575 million in federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to be included in the upcoming government spending package. The funding bill proposed by the House eliminates advance funding for CPB, which provides direct grant support to PBS and NPR for their public television and radio stations across the country. Zeroing out funding would mean that the future of critical educational and news programming, as well as beloved shows like Sesame Street and America’s Test Kitchen, could be in jeopardy. 

PBS is a beloved institution and home to shows that millions of us grew up with,” said Senator Gillibrand.Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow have helped generations of American children learn to read. PBS NewsHour delivers unbiased reporting every night. PBS also functions as an emergency alert broadcast system, and CPB funding supports the largest non-profit GED program in the country. Funding cuts could force many PBS stations off the air, and if cuts like these continue, they could potentially jeopardize many of the programs that millions of Americans know and love. I’m determined to not let that happen. I’m leading a bipartisan push to get $575 million for CPB included in the upcoming spending bill to save public broadcasting.”

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting supports over 1,500 local public television and radio stations that provide free, high-quality programming to millions of households across America. It provides young children who don’t get the chance to attend preschool with educational content that helps them learn to read; airs highly trusted nightly news programming; and shares critical public safety information during emergencies. Local public television stations also provide extensive coverage of local government and elections and host candidate debates, helping Americans stay connected with their elected leaders. Because public television and radio relies heavily on federal funding to operate, particularly in rural communities, losing this funding would force many of these stations to reduce or even eliminate much of their programming. 

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Senate appropriators is available here or below: 

Dear Chair Baldwin and Ranking Member Capito:

Thank you for the Committee’s strong bipartisan leadership in providing full funding for local

public broadcast stations through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ready To Learn program, and public media’s interconnection system in your FY 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Bill. The levels you provided in the Senate bill are essential to the continued public services that local stations provide every day in the communities they serve and I urge the conferees to accept your levels for public broadcasting funding.

I was disheartened to see that the House Bill eliminated the two-year advanced appropriations for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and included no funding for the Ready To Learn program or the public broadcasting Interconnection. As you consider the FY 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, I urge you to continue to provide healthy funding for these programs which enable local stations to invest in essential public services in their communities. This funding supports investments in education, public safety, and civic leadership services that all stations are uniquely positioned to provide.

Without adequate funding, important programs providing education, public safety, civic

leadership, news, information and community programming may be in jeopardy for many

Americans. These services have helped more than three generations of Americans learn to read, while also improving the math and literacy skills of many children living in high-need areas across the country. Local public broadcasting stations play a critical role in alerting, warning, and providing local information during disasters and other crises. Public media is successfully providing trusted local journalism, information, and cultural programming to many parts of our country that are underserved and unprofitable for traditional media sources.

The longstanding practice of two-year advance appropriations for CPB, which was first proposed by President Ford as a five-year advance and enacted by Congress in 1976, allows stations the ability to maximize fundraising efforts to leverage the promise of federal dollars for local impact, ensuring the continuation of this strong public-private partnership. The two-year advance funding mechanism also gives stations critical lead-time needed to plan and produce high-quality programming with accompanying educational resources. Local stations rely on the two-year advance appropriation, and removing this provision will only hurt much-needed clarity.

Thank you again for your leadership on this issue and I urge the conferees to support your Senate funding levels for public media in the final FY 2024 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Bill.