White House Preserves CPB Funding

2014 Budget Requested Full Funding of $445 million for CPB's FY 2016 Advance Appropriation

Big Bird's head remained safe from the chopping block in the Obama administration's 2014 budget, though it will be up to Congress to approve that and other proposals.

"[Wednesday], President Obama submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget to Congress, requesting full funding of $445 million for CPB's FY 2016 advance appropriation," said Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) CEO Patricia Harrison, who thanked the President on behalf of millions of Americans who use public media.

CPB distributes the approximately 15% (on average) of a noncommercial station's budget that comes from federal money.

"The President's request reinforces the value of public media's in-depth news reporting, our commitment to providing a safe place where children can learn, on-air, online, and in the community, and our commitment to lifelong learning through initiatives such as American Graduate helping to keep America's young people on the path to a high school diploma," said Harrison.

The issue of noncommercial funding became a presidential campaign flashpoint when Mitt Romney suggested during one of the debates that he liked Big Bird, just not well enough to keep funding the popular Sesame Street character.

"I'm sorry, Jim, I'm going to stop the subsidy to PBS," Romney said to debate moderator Jim Lehrer. "I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I'm not going to keep spending money on things, borrowing money from China to pay for it."

But it is not only Republicans that have taken aim at noncom funding.

The co-chairs of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform back in 2010 recommended zeroing out funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as one way to help save $200 billion, but the President wound up not acting on those and other recommendations that drew flak from various quarters.

The Association of Public Television Stations was also thankful for the funding. "We thank the President for understanding the value of local public broadcasting stations who provide the highest-quality educational, informational and cultural services to every American, every day, for free," said CEO Patrick Butler.

But his joy was not unalloyed. He said it was unfortunate and disappointing that the budget also included "consolidation" to the Ready to Learn competitive grant program, and phase-out of the Rural Utilities Service's public TV digital transition fund.