What is the CPB and How Does It Affect PBS?

March 17, 2017

What is CPB?

cpb_logo_horizontalThe Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) provides funding to all public broadcasting, including THIRTEEN as well as nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated PBS and NPR stations across the country. CPB was created by Congress in 1967 to be the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

CPB’s 50th anniversary is in 2017. See the momentous occasions in the early days of public television, landmark PBS program debuts (like Sesame Street’s), and funding tipping points in a CPB timeline.

CPB by the numbers

408 grantees, representing 1,136 public radio stations
167 grantees, representing 362 public TV stations
248 of the total 575 grantees are considered rural
99% of Americans have access to public media
82% of TV households watch PBS and audience demographics reflect the U.S. population in race/ethnicity, education and income
More than 70% of CPB’s federal funding goes directly to local public media stations
Less than 5% of funding is spent on CPB operations
$1.35 is the average annual cost per American for public media

For more information, visit www.cpb.org.

Mr. Rogers and the Most Famous Defense of CPB Funding

Footage of PBS program host Fred Rogers testifying before the Senate on behalf of the CPB has been seen millions of times on YouTube alone. On May 1, 1969, Fred Rogers, host of the (then) recently nationally syndicated children’s television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce Subcommittee on Communications to defend $20 million in federal funding proposed for the newly formed non-profit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was at risk of being reduced to $10 million. Subcommittee chairman, Senator John Pastore (D-RI), unfamiliar with Fred Rogers, is initially abrasive toward him. Over the course of Rogers’ six minutes of testimony, Pastore’s demeanor gradually transitions to one of awe and admiration as Rogers speaks.

Repeats of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood stopped airing on PBS stations in August 2008, years after the death of Fred Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003). PBS still streams Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes. In 2012, the animated series Daniel the Tiger’s Neighborhood premiered on PBS, which continues the original show’s themes and characters and is also aimed at preschoolers.