Some listeners and viewers have been asking about how south-central Indiana’s public broadcasting stations, WFIU and WTIU, are funded. Our funding sources include listeners, underwriters, Indiana University, and the federally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
You might have heard that the future of CPB currently is in question. We’ve prepared some answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions on this topic. If you have a question that you don’t see addressed here, then please be in touch and we’ll respond as quickly as we can.
What is CPB’s role in public broadcasting?
Uncle Sam spends only a dollar and thirty five cents per citizen per year to fund public TV and radio. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit corporation created by an act of the United States Congress (the Public Broadcasting Financing Act of 1967) and funded by the U.S. federal government to promote public broadcasting. CPB receives a two-year appropriation from Congress that it distributes to local public television and radio stations.
CPB’s mission is to encourage program diversity and to expand and develop non-commercial broadcasting. CPB funding helps local stations to acquire national programming and to create innovative original content, thereby increasing the service of broadcasting in the public interest throughout the country.
Why does public broadcasting need federal funding?
Federal funding is essential to the funding mix that supports public broadcasting. CPB funding provides critical seed money and basic operating support to local stations, which then leverage each $1 of federal funding to raise more than $5 from local sources — a strong return on the taxpayer investment.
Federal funding provides essential support for public broadcasting’s mission to ensure universal access to high-quality, non-commercial programming that educates, informs, enlightens and enriches the public, with a particular focus on the needs of underserved audiences, including children and people of color.
In many rural areas, public broadcasting is the only source of free local, national and international news, public affairs and cultural programming – and with such small populations they often rely more heavily on federal funding. Without it, these stations would likely be unable to continue to provide local communities with news, information, cultural and educational programming that they currently provide, and in some places could even go off the air altogether.
In addition, the CPB helps negotiate music rights for all public stations and provides administrative support, allowing stations to aggregate together for cost-effective sharing of information, research and services.
WFIU and WTIU Funding Status
Funding for the current fiscal year, FY2017, has been distributed to the CPB, and first payments have been made to local stations, including WFIU and WTIU.
The appropriation for the CPB is booked two years in advance, which is designed to provide a buffer between funding and changes in the political climate. Therefore, funding has been secured for FY2018 and FY2019, but has not yet been distributed. Technically, these appropriations could be rescinded, but it would take an act of Congress to make that happen.
How much funding do WFIU and WTIU receive?
In 2016, WFIU and WTIU received, between the two stations, about $1.3 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This amounts to approximately 13 percent of Radio-TV Services’ total revenue budget.
What would a loss of federal funding mean for WFIU and WTIU?
We anticipate that the loss of federal funding would affect our stations in two distinctly different ways. Listener support might well increase in response to fundraising efforts that highlight the loss of CPB funds as a reason to give or to give more. However, fully offsetting the complete loss of CPB funds would require our annual listener support to double — which seems unlikely. Consequently, in addition to pursuing new sources of revenue, we would have to look to cost-cutting measures as well.
The largest single cost for WFIU and WTIU is programming and production. We can anticipate that any major expense reductions would by necessity affect our program service. Public broadcasters who have undergone budgetary cuts in state funding have found that locally produced programming is most severely impacted.