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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

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Millennial Retirement Readiness #SuperSavers

 

Millennials – those born between 1980 and the early 2000s – are on average making less money than Baby Boomers, and their net wealth is about half of Boomers when they were at the same age. However, Millennials are saving more for retirement. INSIGHTS examines this phenomenon.

 

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

 


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

 

PACIFIC HEARTBEAT
Dream Big: Nanakuli at the Fringe

 

Feel the pulse of the Pacific – the stories of its people, cultures, languages, music and contemporary issues – in Season 5 of PACIFIC HEARTBEAT, the nationally distributed series from Pacific Islanders in Communications and PBS Hawaii. The five films in this season highlight struggles, values and victories that draw us together and make our Pacific cultures unique.

 

Dream Big: Nanakuli at The Fringe
This PBS Hawaii-produced documentary follows the students of Nanakuli High and Intermediate School Performing Arts Center on Oahu, who were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel halfway across the globe to perform at The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. When a lack of funds threatens to keep students from going to Scotland, the Hawaii community rallies behind them.

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
The Honolulu Zoo: A Fall from Grace

 

The Honolulu Zoo lost its accreditation after the Association of Zoos and Aquariums determined that the zoo receives inadequate funding from the City and community partners, and suffers from inconsistent leadership and political wrangling. City leaders vow to turn things around. The question is: How? On INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I, we’ll examine with Zoo Director Baird Fleming and other animal advocates with differing perspectives.

 

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

 

Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation grants $2 million for PBS Hawai‘i’s new home

PBS Hawaii

 

HONOLULU, HI – A large grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has propelled PBS Hawai‘i to within $200,000 of its $30 million goal for its new home at 315 Sand Island Access Road.

 

The $2 million grant to Hawai‘i’s statewide public television station will provide facilities for education through storytelling, and workforce development. The foundation’s focus is helping those who are vulnerable and at-risk.

 

From left: Ben Nishimoto, PBS Hawai‘i Vice President of Advancement; Corbett Kalama, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Vice President of Real Estate Investments and Community Affairs; Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO; Gailene Wong, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Grant Director; Robbie Alm, PBS Hawai‘i Board Chair; Bettina Mehnert, PBS Hawai‘i Board Secretary; Jason Fujimoto, PBS Hawai‘i Board Vice Chair.

 

“Harry Weinberg was thoughtful and considerate of those in our community who are less fortunate,” said Corbett Kalama, Vice President of Real Estate Investments and Community Affairs at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. “PBS Hawai‘i provides opportunities for youngsters in Hawaii to be creative and be a part of something that helps them be better people.”

 

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is naming the building’s two largest areas: its main Multimedia Studio, where PBS Hawai‘i productions will be produced; and the Learning Zone, the open area at the heart of the second floor built for collaborative projects with filmmakers, students, teachers and others in the community.

 

PBS Hawai‘i staff reported to work at the new building at the beginning of the month, and is currently troubleshooting its new technological systems.

 

PBS Hawai‘i Board Chair Robbie Alm stated: “We share with [the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation] a deep and abiding desire to see those who begin life with less have the greatest opportunities possible to change their lives. At PBS Hawai‘i’s new home, every person and especially every young person can find their own future based on their own talents, dreams and ambitions. Their opportunities are, thanks to this gift, without limit.”

 

Naming opportunities, including spots on our two donor walls, are still available. More information is online at PBSHawaii.org/newhome.

 

Download this Press Release

 

For questions regarding this press release:

 

Contact: Liberty Peralta
Email: lperalta@pbshawaii.org
Phone: 808.973.1383

 

PBS Hawai‘i is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Hawai‘i’s sole member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). We advance learning and discovery through storytelling that profoundly touches people’s lives. We bring the world to Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i to the world. PBSHawaii.org | facebook.com/pbshawaii | @pbshawaii

 

Jimmy Borges: Faced It All
It’s an intimate, one-of-a-kind concert.

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiJimmy Borges, one of Hawaii’s most beloved performers, tells a small studio audience of hand-picked friends that he’s “in the process of learning how to die.”

 

I invite you to tune in and watch this concert and the man who shines through the music, in the show’s premiere on Thursday, January 21, at 8:00 pm on PBS Hawaii. The title, Jimmy Borges: Faced It All, comes from a phrase in the song “My Way.”

 

Jimmy Borges

 

Jimmy speaks to his friends matter-of-factly, from the heart: “My cancer is back. And this time, it’s not planning to leave. But tonight, or any night, is not about ‘poor Jimmy.’ Tonight is about me having a wonderful life, sharing my music. And tonight is about someone out there whose life is going to be affected by what we’re doing here tonight.”

 

By “someone out there,” Jimmy has in mind a Hawaii high school graduate with financial needs who will benefit from the brand-new Jimmy Borges Vocal Music Scholarship fund at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His friends in the audience established this perpetual fund in his honor.

 

Actor Jim Nabors, 85, has a moment with Jimmy during a pre-concert audio check.

Leading whirlwind fundraising were cancer survivor and retired Hawaiian Electric Industries (HEI) CEO Robert Clarke and Matson Chairman and former First Hawaiian Bank CEO and Chairman Walter A. Dods. Jr. They raised $300,000 in less than a month.

 

Right: Actor Jim Nabors, 85, has a moment with Jimmy during a pre-concert audio check.

 

Taped last December 3, in PBS Hawaii’s studio, the concert marked Jimmy’s first public disclosure of the recurrence of liver cancer which has spread to his lungs. We at PBS Hawaii are honored to present this gift of a program from a former PBS Hawaii Board member and favorite son of Hawaii, who assures us, “I’m here living the life I chose to live. I’ve got the best musicians, and each song we’re doing tonight is a song seen through the prism of my life. So let’s cook.”

 

Thursday, January 21, 8:00 pm

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
How Can Hawai‘i’s Special Education Services Boost Achievement for Students with Disabilities?

 

Education reform over the last decade has led to significant academic improvement for Hawai‘i’s public school students. But the state’s special education students haven’t enjoyed the same academic gains, despite the Department of Education devoting 23% of its budget to special education services for what is only about 10.5% of the Hawai‘i’s public school population. How can Hawai‘i’s special education services boost achievement for students with disabilities?

 

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

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Is Public School Reform Working for Hawai‘i’s Students?

 

The $75 million Race to the Top grant gave Hawai‘i’s public schools a much needed boost toward overall student academic achievement. But educators still believe we have a long way to go to get our students career- and college-ready. What more needs to be done as we prepare to apply the standards of the one-size-fits-all Common Core nationalized plan for education? Are we placing too much of a burden on our teachers? Should the focus be on parents?

 

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 to insights@pbshawaii.org.