Federal Funding Updates

With a new administration and congress, changes are expected and often bring federal funding for public broadcasting into play.

WPM is monitoring this situation very closely, as information occurs almost daily. I’ll update this page regularly — see the links below.

July 20th, 2017 Update

Appropriations and Budget Activity

From NPR Policy and Representation

  • APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE:  Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-NJ 11th District), approved earlier subcommittee recommendations to fully fund public broadcasting by continuing the system’s two-year advance procedure for FY 2020 at $445 million and by reaffirming the same level of funding for FY 2018, beginning October 1, 2017.  Funding for interconnection needs of public radio and public television in FY 2018 was not included, an omission that we are working hard to correct as the appropriations process moves to the Senate. Yesterday’s full Committee action represents the fourth consecutive year that House Republican Appropriators have included funding for our stations and the work of the public broadcasting system in their spending measures.  It is a tribute to communities in every corner of America and the outpouring of support from supporters and enthusiasts.  
  • It is also worth noting a statement made by Congressman Tom Cole during a March hearing in the appropriations subcommittee he chairs. “If you look over a 50-year [CPB] history it is a pretty impressive record of enriching the content of public dialog, opening doors to communities that don't often have these kind of opportunities and living within what is by any measure at the federal level a comparatively modest budget, which you manage to leverage and multiply many times over.”
  • We have more work to do to ensure that public radio’s needed and planned interconnection priorities are addressed, but we are off to a good start.    
  • BUDGET UPDATE:  The Congressional process of addressing spending priorities and providing funding to achieve these priorities includes the work of the Appropriations Committees and also the 
  • Congressional Budget Committees. While congressional appropriators approve the actual funds to be spent by federal government departments, agencies and independent entities like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the congressional budget committees set binding, overall spending ceilings, or caps, for each of the twelve appropriations subcommittees. In setting these spending caps, the Budget Committees also make illustrative recommendations about how Congress might align spending to live within these established boundaries. While the spending caps established by the Budget Committees are binding on congressional appropriators, the individual recommendations are not. They are simply examples of spending decisions Congress could make to fund the government’s numerous programs and initiatives.  
  • Yesterday, the House Budget Committee voted to approve an FY 2018 Budget Resolution that outlines a path to eliminate deficits in 10 years by cutting more than $5 trillion from entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, trimming discretionary programs, and assuming about $1.5 trillion in additional revenue from robust economic growth. This spending blueprint represents the views of the House Budget Committee majority on how to bring the country’s fiscal affairs into alignment. Future action on this measure is uncertain, but it remains an important indicator of how some in Congress view future spending priorities and spending reductions.

June 1st, 2017 Update

  • Earlier this year the Administration released a so-called skinny budget that proposed elimination of funding for public broadcasting. The Administration’s more detailed budget proposal for FY 2018  includes this recommendation. As noted in previous Updates, this step by the Administration is but the first in a long journey to decide funding levels for the federal government. Ultimately, Congress will make the final decisions on continuing the annual federal investment in our stations and the public broadcasting system. 
  • The fiscal 2018 budget blueprint proposes a 10-year path toward a balanced budget that is based upon stimulating domestic economic growth and deep cuts in entitlements. The Administration’s budget builds on a discretionary spending outline submitted in March that called on Congress to boost defense spending by some $54 billion, offset by corresponding cuts to domestic discretionary spending. The Administration also calls for Congress to abandon tight spending limits imposed by a 2011 deficit-cutting law (PL 112-25) which will enable the increase in funding to the Pentagon. As noted earlier, all of this depends on Congressional approval and it presents Congress will some very difficult challenges and decisions.  
  • Congressional budgeteers and appropriators now begin a long slog of hearings and committee meetings to sort out how much money will be made available for all non-mandatory federal spending — with everything to be completed in just five months.  

May 1st, 2017 Update

  • Later this week Congress will vote on a measure to finalize funding priorities for the remainder of FY 2017 that includes continuation of public broadcasting’s two-year advance, with $445 million approved for FY 2019, and $50 million for the interconnection needs of our stations in FY 2017. Total spending approved in this package is roughly $1 trillion and includes some $12.5 billion in new defense spending and an additional $1.5 billion for border security.

April 24th, 2017 Update

  • The information below comes from our NPR Policy and Representation team in D.C. It’s the latest update on Appropriations. At this point, we are funded, but continue to monitor the situation should there be any obstacles in the coming weeks.
  • FY 2017 Appropriations: The temporary, short-term Continuing Resolution Congress passed late last year expires on April 28, 2017.  Public broadcasting’s two-year advance funding mechanism enabled the release of FY 2017 monies to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on October 1, 2016, so the system’s basic funding is in place, with grants to stations underway. What remains to be settled by Congress as it finishes the current year’s spending plans are continuation of the two-year advance, which puts in place system funding for FY 2019, and inclusion of interconnection funds to be distributed in FY 2017 as well. Some $40 million is likely to be packaged by Congress in FY 2017 to continue interconnection improvements in public television’s operations.  
  • Overall, Congress is grappling with demands by the Administration to boost defense and border security spending while cutting spending for domestic discretionary programs. This is likely to be done through an unusual spending measure known as a “cromnibus,” or the combination of an “omnibus spending vehicle” and a “continuing resolution.” The stakes are high. If new funding hasn’t been approved by midnight Friday, there will be weekend closures of some government agencies and activities. To give itself more time and to avoid a partial or total government shut-down, Congressional leaders are working on extending for a week or so the current short-term continuing resolution.

March 28th, 2017 Update

March 16th, 2017 Update

What can you do to help?

You can share your thoughts about public radio service in Wyoming with legislators, both in Congress and in the Statehouse. 

You can also record or write a testimonial expressing your thoughts about the value of WPM. It’s easy to do. Just click here to share your thoughts for I Love Wyoming Public Radio

WPM shares public opinion with Congress and with Wyoming leadership, and we keep your comments and testimonials on file. You can also join your voices to the national effort that gauges public response to public broadcasting funding Protect My Public Media.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Christina Kuzmych
General Manager, Wyoming Public Media
ckuzmych@uwyo.edu307 -766-4241 
Dept. 3984, 1000 E University Ave, Laramie, Wyoming 82071


What is CPB's role in public broadcasting?
The CPB is distinct from both NPR and PBS. It is not a broadcaster, but a private corporation created by Congress in 1967 with two primary functions: to serve as a firewall between partisan politics and public broadcasting, and to help fund programming, stations, and technology.

How much CPB funding does WPM receive?
WPM receives approximately $300,000 CPB funding annually. This comes to us in direct dollars. In addition, WPM receives the same amount $300,000 in indirect services. 

What is the difference between the direct and indirect funding?
Direct funding is distributed directly to WPM. It buys programming, pays for operating costs such as salaries, equipment, training, travels to remote locations for reporters, among others. Indirect funding is a pooled fund that stays at CPB and is used to support services that public broadcasting stations could not purchase on their own because of substantial costs or intricate legal negotiations. These include items such as negotiation for music rights that allows WPM to the playing of artist recordings on air, negotiating streaming rights that allow WPM to stream its signals online and reach people who do not have access to radio service. Aggregating together in this way allows broadcasters to realize substantial savings while providing excellent service to Americans.

What would happen if WPM lost CPB funding?
It would effectively remove one critical piece of WPM funding which is made up of individual donors, businesses and corporations, the University of Wyoming, and CPB. It would diminish our ability to purchase programs like Morning Edition, drive out to fix transmitters in remote Wyoming, or pay for an employee. In short, it would cripple WPM. Wyoming’s population is not large enough to sustain another $300,000 of funding from the public, plus the indirect $300,000 of industry support.  

Couldn’t the University of Wyoming pick up the slack?
The UW allocation to WPM’s operating budget has remained static for the last 15 years and decreased in 2016 as a result of cuts mandated by the governor and legislature. There is little hope of increasing UW’s appropriation to WPM at this time in Wyoming’s depressed economy. On the other hand, UW has been instrumental in taking WPM’s multi-year Infrastructure Improvement request to the state legislature in 2014 and 2016. To date, WPM received $1.5 million of a $5 million projected expenditure to upgrade aging site equipment. This allows WPM’s signal to reach most of Wyoming.

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 over $6 from local sources — a tremendous 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 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.

What is meant by “CPB” is funded two years in advance?
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 this happen.

What is the status of WPM’s current appropriation?
Funding for the current fiscal year, FY2017, has been distributed to the CPB, and first payments have been made to stations, including WPM.

Does CPB funding increase annually?
Annual funding for the CPB has been level at $445 million for several years. This amounts to about $1.35 per American per year. The federal government is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year, as a comparison.

WPM thanks our colleagues at Vermont Public Radio and in the public broadcasting system for sharing data for this report.