Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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

 

Station Reports

Jump to a reports section:

CPB Station Reports  |  Public File  |  EEO Report  |  Help with Station Reports

 


 

CPB Station Reports

 


 

Public File

https://stations.fcc.gov/station-profile/khet

https://stations.fcc.gov/station-profile/kmeb

 

^back to top

 


 

EEO Report

 

^back to top

 


 

Help with Station Reports

For assistance in accessing our Public File or EEO information, contact:

John Nakahira, Chief Engineer
PBS Hawai‘i
315 Sand Island Access Road
Honolulu, HI  96819-2295

jnakahira@pbshawaii.org

Oahu: 808. 462. 5055
Neighbor Islands: 800. 238. 4847
Fax: 808. 462. 5090

 

To obtain copies of annual financial reports and filings, please contact:

Karen Yamamoto

Phone: 808. 462. 5000

 

^back to top