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It Just Doesn’t Add Up – Federal De-Funding of Public Media

Special Message


Kent K. Tsukamoto, Treasurer, PBS Hawai‘iI’m a numbers guy. It’s my job.

 

As a longtime CPA and as managing partner of one of Hawai‘i’s largest locally owned financial services companies, I know that numbers tell stories, too.

 

So, with the White House handing Congress a proposed federal budget that would de-fund the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I took a closer look at the numbers in the current federal investment.

 

$1.35. That’s the cost of public broadcasting per citizen per year – less than the price of a manapua.

 

For years now, Republicans and Democrats have vigorously argued and then come together in a bipartisan investment to give public media $445 million a year, with most of the money going directly to support free, noncommercial, locally run PBS television stations and NPR radio stations across the country.

 

$445 million is 1/100th of 1 percent of the nation’s budget, amounting to $1.35 per citizen per year. The national PBS folks point out that’s less than a cup of coŸffee. Here, we like to say: That’s less than the price of a manapua – and a small manapua at that.

 

Most years for PBS Hawai‘i, our part of the national funding amounts to 15 percent, or about $1 million, of our annual revenues. We use the federal investment as seed money to attract contributions from the private sector – “viewers like you.” Individuals, businesses and charitable foundations pitch in. It’s these private gifts and grants, fanned by the spark of federal funding, that provide the bulk of our statewide programming and outreach.

 

Among the oŸfferings that the federal investment helps us acquire: curriculum-based PBS KIDS programming that boosts our children’s learning; the science show NOVA; the investigative program Frontline; and performing arts on Great Performances. The federal funding also helps to create shows like Na Mele, the only weekly television show featuring traditional Hawaiian music; and Insights on PBS Hawai‘i, the only live hour-long interactive public affairs show on weekly statewide television.

 

As a lean local nonprofit that’s able to leverage the federal money and also scale our services by sharing program costs nationally in public media, PBS Hawai‘i has a track record of delivering quality shows at very reasonable costs.

 

To guard against political interference in program content, Congress has provided two-year “forward funding” as a firewall. All of this computes to a successful public-private partnership.

 

As Neil Shapiro, who heads WNET in New York, observed: “It’s not like cutting this would have any appreciable effect on any taxpayer across the country, but losing PBS would.”

 

In my view, this is especially true when it comes to the value of PBS’ in-depth news coverage, arts and culture, a safe haven for keiki and a trusted place to air diffŸering perspectives on local issues.

 

It’s a privilege to volunteer my time as Treasurer of PBS Hawai‘i’s Board of Directors – because I want to support a community treasure that is efficient and collaborative in costs, while providing a significant multiple in the value returned to the people of Hawai‘i.

 

I see how the federal investment enriches the people of Hawai‘i and keeps our stories alive, our music playing and our home a better, safer place. The numbers tell the story.

 

If you’d like to help support public media organizations like PBS Hawai‘i:

  1. Contact your Hawai‘i Congressional delegates.
  2. Go to ProtectMyPublicMedia.org and sign a petition.
  3. Continue to pitch in with your private dollars as you can.

Thank you

 

A Threat to Public Broadcasting’s “Spark”

Protect My Public Media

If you’d like to help support public media organizations like PBS Hawai‘i:

  1. Contact your Hawai‘i Congressional delegates.
  2. Go to ProtectMyPublicMedia.org and sign a petition.
  3. Continue to pitch in with your private dollars as you can.

Thank you


Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiAt first, when Ronald Reagan launched his Presidency in 1981, he didn’t like the idea of federal monies going to fund PBS and NPR stations across the country.

 

Then he saw how public-service media stations leveraged a relatively small amount of federal funding to gain private donations. One federal dollar might turn into, say, eight dollars, with citizens, businesses and charitable foundations adding the weight of their support.

 

“Government should provide the spark and the private sector should do the rest,” President Reagan said.

 

We at PBS Hawai‘i believe this is a good public-private partnership, centered on education, public safety and civic leadership. Last year, 9.5 percent of our revenues came from the federal investment.

 

Now comes the Trump Administration, signaling its intention to “privatize” – meaning de-fund – the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the private nonprofit that distributes funds to public media stations. Other Administration targets are the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

 

As I write this, two weeks before publication, I’m getting ready to go to Washington, D.C. for a national public media summit, at which attendees will seek to determine President Trump’s plans. Is he really going to wage a battle against federal seed money for public broadcasting?

 

The public broadcasting community says the notion of eliminating the federal funding in its mission is “nothing new.” It points out that similar ideas have been “soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”

 

According to the industry publication Current, the chair of a key House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), predicts that such a move would fail because “there is a strong constituency for public broadcasting in both the House and Senate.”

 

Indeed, strong bipartisan support usually results in an appropriation of about $1.35 per year per American. Still, leaders of public broadcasting say they must take funding threats seriously. They’re asking to talk with Administration officials, and station general managers from all over the country are taking their case to Capitol Hill.

 

PBS Hawai‘i’s Board of Directors already has written to Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegates.

 

However, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) isn’t calling out and mobilizing citizens at this time. Without a fleshed-out proposal from the Trump Administration, leaders are monitoring the situation closely. We are urging viewers to register your support at protectmypublicmedia.org.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Will Philanthropy Narrow the Gap Between the Haves and Have Nots?

 

Financial experts predict we’ll see the largest transfer of wealth in history take place over the next three decades. An estimated $16 trillion will be passed on to philanthropic organizations.

 

What is the financial outlook for philanthropy in Hawai‘i? Will there be new areas of focus? How will individual acts of planned giving impact our local non-profits? And will our strong sense of kuleana for others remain intact as we enter a new era of extraordinary need?

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 



INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
How Are Innovators Finding Ways to Lift People Out of Homelessness in Hawai‘i?

 

As the state and counties look for solutions to the homeless crisis in Hawai‘i, some people are finding creative ways to give the homeless shelter and opportunity. From faith-based organizations to individuals providing rooms in their own homes, these innovators are blazing their own trails to help the homeless.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
973-1000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 

NA MELE
Queen Emma – Her Life and Legacy

 

Na Mele: Queen Emma – Her Life and Legacy features traditional Hawaiian chants and songs created to honor and record the life of Queen Emma. The Queen Emma Summer Palace in Nuuanu serves as center stage. The Summer Palace, or Hānaiakamalama (nurtured by the moon) as it’s also known, was a place of respite for Queen Emma and her husband, King Kamehameha IV. Despite the tragedies in her life – the loss of her 4 year old son, Albert, and her husband, King Kamehameha IV – Queen Emma had the strength and fortitude to establish institutions that continue to serve Hawaii today: The Cathedral of St. Andrew, The Queenʻs Medical Center and St. Andrewʻs Priory School for Girls.

 

In the hula performance of “Aia I Nu‘uanu,” the dancers and kumu hula chant, “Aia ka nana i Nu‘uanu, I walea ‘Emalani i laila, Ka ‘olu kohai i ka makani” (There is the beauty at Nu‘uanu, such that Emalani is at ease there, comfortable, swaying in the breeze). The halau dances with the Summer Palace quietly looking over them, as if the Queen herself is observing and appreciating their hula. Also performing hula about Queen Emma and the places she loved is Hālau Haʻa Hula ʻO Kekauʻilani Nā Pua Hala O Kailua and a halau made up of students from St. Andrew’s Priory School for Girls. The Emmalani Serenaders also lend their voices to praise Queen Emma, performing Kaleleonālani and Hole Waimea.

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawaii President and CEO, will host the program, alongside special guests from the Daughters of Hawai‘i, St. Andrew’s Priory, and The Cathedral of St. Andrew.

 

Original air date: Sun., June 7, 7:00 pm

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
How Can We Best Help the Homeless?

 

Efforts to deal with Oahu’s homeless population, such as moving them out of parks
and off sidewalks, have only shifted them away from businesses, leading to more
sidewalk tents in Kaka‘ako and Kapalama. Now City Council members want the Mayor
to consider using the former Hilo Hattie site on Nimitz Highway as a homeless shelter.
What could the State and counties do to help? How can we best help the homeless?

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I is a live public affairs show that is also live streamed on PBSHawaii.org. Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email, Twitter or live blogging. You may also email your questions ahead of time toinsights@pbshawaii.org.

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
973-1000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights