Detailed FY 2023/2025 Request
CPB distributes its appropriation in accordance with a statutory formula outlined in the Public Broadcasting Act. Ninety-five percent of CPB's appropriation goes directly to content development, community services, and other local station and system needs. Only 5 percent is allocated to administrative costs—an exceptionally low overhead rate compared to other nonprofits. By statute, Community Service Grants (CSGs), which go directly to local public television and radio stations, make up 70 percent of CPB's entire appropriation. Stations have wide latitude to use CSG funds to serve local needs in a manner they choose, which often includes community outreach, program purchasing, and local content development.
Also by statute, the System Support category funds projects that benefit the entire public broadcasting community, while the Television Programming and Radio Programming funds support the development of national content.
If Congress makes no changes to CPB's authorizing legislation and fully funds our request for a $565 million advance appropriation for FY 2025, the statutory categories under the Public Broadcasting Act would be funded as follows:
Public Television Station and Programming Grants
Direct Station Grants (TV CSGs) — $282.86 million
By statute, stations use CSGs “for purposes related primarily to the production or acquisition of programming.” The size of each station's CSG depends on factors (determined by CPB through periodic system consultations) such as size of station, the amount of nonfederal financial support raised, the rurality of the audience served, and the number of stations in a given market. Under current CPB policy, stations can use CSGs for one of seven categories of expenses: Programming and Production; Broadcasting, Transmission and Distribution; Program Information and Promotion; Fundraising and Membership Development; Underwriting and Grant Solicitation; Management and General; and Purchase, Rehabilitation or Improvement of Capital Assets.
In FY2020, CSGs made up 18.3% percent of the average public television station's total revenue, with stations using this funding to leverage other critical investments from station and local governments, universities, businesses, foundations, and viewers. For many public television stations serving rural areas, this percentage is significantly higher. See Appendix G for a full listing of station funding by state, the vast majority of which is CSG funding.
National Television Programming Grants — $94.28 million
The Public Broadcasting Act requires a set percentage of the CPB appropriation to go toward “national public television programming.” CPB funds a broad array of national programs in support of the statutory mission to reach underserved audiences, fund independent producers, provide high-quality educational programming for children and adults, and other content-related activities. CPB anticipates that the following activities will receive Television Programming funding:
Public Radio Station and Programming Grants — $125.71 million
“Unrestricted” CSGs — $88.00 million
Like public television stations, eligible public radio stations also receive CSGs from CPB, though for radio, the CSG contains two types of funds: unrestricted and restricted. The unrestricted portion can be used for a variety of purposes, including local content development, community outreach, infrastructure maintenance, and other station needs.
“Restricted” CSGs — $28.90 million
Radio restricted CSGs are required by the Public Broadcasting Act “to be used for acquiring or producing [radio] programming that is to be distributed nationally and is designed to serve the needs of a national audience.” Broadly speaking, public radio stations use the restricted portion of their CSG to acquire programming from national producers such as NPR, PRX, American Public Media, independent producers and other stations that produce national content.
Taken together, in FY2020, the latest year for which we have data, the average public radio station relied on both unrestricted and restricted grants for 7.9% percent of its annual revenue. However, for some stations, including those serving rural or Native American communities, the CSG provides the bulk of their funding. As with television CSGs, the size of each station's grant depends on factors such as population density of the market served, and the amount of funds that stations can raise on their own.
Radio Program Fund — $8.81 million
As on the television side, the Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to invest a small portion of the appropriation in nationally-distributed radio programming projects. The Radio Program Fund supports the development of new public radio services and series, the production of urgent or timely content, the work of independent radio producers, programming for underserved and unserved audiences, and the development of innovative content forms.
Recent Radio Program Fund projects include:
- Public media journalism collaborations involving public media stations in 42 states and the District of Columbia.
- NPR international news coverage and Investigative reporting resources
- Expansion of Urban Alternative public radio music format that targets younger, diverse audiences
- StoryCorps’ One Small Step initiative, Military Voices initiative, and Mobile Booth
- NPR Code Switch
- WAMU 1A Remaking America
- Native America Calling and National Native News
- LAist Studios
- Live From Cain’s
System Support (or “Six Percent”) Funds — $33.90 million
The Public Broadcasting Act directs CPB to use 6% percent of the appropriation for “projects and activities that will enhance public broadcasting”. Also known as “System Support,” these funds help drive leadership among stations, innovation within the system, and collaboration across the system to help ensure effective and efficient programs and services. In addition, System Support funds help to offset certain infrastructure costs mentioned in the Public Broadcasting Act such as interconnection operations and music royalty costs.
The following projects have received funding in past years:
Core System Support
- TV Interconnection Operation Grants
- Music Licenses
- Radio Minority Support Station Resource Planning Research
- Public Media Workforce Collaborative
- DEI Support
- Leadership for Diversity and Inclusion
- Public Media Village
- Digital Accelerator Program Extension
Educational Content and Services
- PBS LearningMedia
- PBS Distance Learning Support
- Local Innovations in Station Education Service
- American Graduate
- By/With/For Youth- “Inspiring Next Gen Public Media Audience”
- Children’s Media Production Academy
- Student Reporting Labs
- Sesame in Communities
- Regional Journalism Collaborations
- Editorial Integrity and Leadership
- Newsroom Advantage-Report for America
- State Capital News Survey
Health and Efficiency of Public Media Infrastructure
- Collaborative Operations & Services (COS) Grants
- Emergency Relief Grants
- SSO: Single Sign-On
- Public Safety Pilot Projects
- NextGen (ATSC 3.0) Pilot Projects
- Digital Infrastructure Strategy Expert
- Media Content
- ITVS Operational Support
- NMCA Operational Support
- World Channel Operations
- Firelight Documentary Lab Operations
- PBS Digital Studios Operations
- Integrated Station Info System Computer Platform
- Anti-harassment Training
- Spectrum Policy Research
- Public Media Conference Support
- Honoraria for External Review Panel