Members will hear testimony regarding the reauthorization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Senator McCain will preside.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Carl Matthusen
Introduction and Summary: Chairman McCain, Senator Hollings and Members of the Committee, I am Carl Matthusen, General Manager of KJZZ-FM, KBAQ-FM and Sun Sounds Radio Reading Service, all serving the citizens of Arizona. I’m grateful for this opportunity to support the reauthorization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Taking this action is a very significant and important step in securing a stable foundation for America’s public broadcasting institutions. I speak for all in public radio in expressing our appreciation for the leadership you've provided to public radio and television and to institutions like CPB. This leadership and support have been critical in continuing the successful, four decades-old partnership between the Congress and public broadcasting institutions that serve every state and congressional district in America. My stations are representative of the diversity and distinctive nature that defines public radio today. KJZZ features news, information, entertainment, and acoustic jazz. It went on the air in 1951, and is licensed to the Maricopa County Community College District. Arbitron numbers say KJZZ reaches nearly 250,000 listeners weekly. The annual budget is $3.1 million. 10% of that comes from the Community Service Grant program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. KJZZ’s sister station, KBAQ, provides central Arizona’s only classical music programming. The Maricopa Community Colleges and Arizona State University jointly own KBAQ, which is 11 years old and has a current annual budget of $1.4 million. 17.8% of the KBAQ budget comes through CPB. The KBAQ audience is about 150,000 listeners weekly. Sun Sounds is a radio reading service for the blind and print disabled. It is 25 years old this year. It, and the other readings services around the country, seeks to provide time-critical information, primarily newspapers and magazines, to a disabled audience. We estimate this audience numbers about 32,000 in Arizona. Sun Sounds does not receive any support from CPB, although CPB does support the distribution of some programming nationally. KJZZ, KBAQ, and Sun Sounds, like all the other public radio stations in America, are locally owned, locally licensed, locally staffed and locally programmed. KJZZ and KBAQ are members of National Public Radio, as are some 770 other stations all across America. Today, NPR programming heard on these stations reaches a weekly audience of some 22 million Americans. Public radio stations are located in every one of America’s fifty states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Marianas Pacific, to bring programming that meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression. While NPR is not the only producer and/or distributor of public radio programming, it is preeminent among all others. Because of this, my remarks speak to both NPR and public radio stations. As you know, NPR is a nonprofit membership corporation that produces and distributes noncommercial educational programming, including All Things Considered®, Morning Edition®, Talk of the Nation®, and Performance Today®, for broadcast by more than 770 public radio stations nationwide. NPR’s members, comprising a variety of community licensees, school boards and other local institutions, Native American tribes, and private and public colleges and universities, are themselves significant producers of news, informational and cultural programming. NPR also operates the Public Radio Satellite Interconnection System and provides representation and other services to its Member stations. NPR doesn’t own or operate radio stations. Public radio stations are locally licensed, locally governed, locally programmed, and locally staffed. Institutionally and practically, these very direct and significant local affiliations have accomplished their intended purpose: public radio stations are responsive and responsible to the communities and listeners they serve. Whether a public radio station’s broadcast license is held by a community college, like KJZZ’s, or by state authorities, such as either the Mississippi Public Radio Network or the South Carolina Educational Radio Network, or by a community entity such as Nevada Public Radio, public radio stations provide localized services that meet local and regional needs. I’d like to suggest four basic notions for inclusion in legislation to reauthorize CPB, all of which will strengthen the distinctive partnership between the Congress and public broadcasting institutions that has been the hallmark of our history: 1. Funding authorization levels for CPB need to reflect the growth in audience, the distinctive service and importance of public broadcasting entities in America’s communities, and the challenges faced by local stations in responding to reductions in state and local financing sources. 2. The transition to digital broadcasting technology, both in radio and television, is critical to the future success of public broadcasting. Legislation reauthorizing CPB needs to reflect this by containing specific funding authority and funding levels to help complete the transition. 3. Renewal of funding authority for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) within the U.S. Department of Commerce is of great import to the future of public broadcasting entities. PTFP is an integral part of the construction of facilities to bring educational and cultural programming to the American public. 4. Public radio and public television stations rely heavily on satellite interconnection systems, which are indispensable to our current and future abilities to serve the American public. CPB’s reauthorization must contain funding levels sufficient to provide these vital services. Public Radio Programming: Programming heard on America’s public radio stations meets the highest standards of public service in journalism and cultural expression. Each station designs it own format by combining local programming with offerings from NPR, Public Radio International, and other sources to best serve its particular audience. Travel across America and you’ll hear public radio’s unique blend of programming that combines daily coverage of events with in-depth excursions into local, national and international stories. In addition, public radio reaches an international audience through NPR Worldwide, which brings all of our most popular shows to American military forces via the American Forces Network in the Middle East, Europe, Japan and Korea. This is an important audience for public radio and it’s an audience we value. Numerous letters from American soldiers posted overseas expressing sentiments like this have been received: “Hello NPR…an Army Reservist recalled to active duty and sent to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan this past May. I just wanted to drop a line to let you know I listen to NPR Worldwide on 105.7 FM. I found the station while channel surfing on a car radio the other day, and upon hearing Click and Clack’s familiar voices became quite pleased that NPR reaches this far from my home in Virginia. …. I shared my find with a fellow officer and NPR listener, and we are now both confident that listening to NPR will make our stay in Bagram a bit more bearable. Thank you for making this service available so far away from home.” And this from a Chaplain: “I served as Chaplain to an engineer Battalion until December of last year. In February, the unit was deployed and is now in Iraq. Today I received an email from the commander….sharing some of the life and times in that country. He noted in particular that the English TV is very limited, so he listens to NPR. It was a comfort to me to know that our troops have contact to the world via NPR. There are some 450 soldiers with him, most from Arkansas. A member of A company was killed recently and the pain of his loss still lingers. If nothing else, I just want to say thank you for reaching around the world, with the world, so that our soldiers have a taste of home while in the desert”. Mr. Chairman, distribution of NPR Worldwide programming is supported financially by NPR as part of its annual operating budget. Its current relationship with the American Forces Radio and Television Network began more than 2 decades ago and continues today as an important component of its day-to-day mission. News and Information: The foundation of public radio is service to America’s communities. That commitment to service is best illustrated by the extensive news and information reporting that is found daily on public radio stations. While other media entities have downsized newsgathering and reporting over the past several years, many in the public radio community have added reporters, correspondents and offices worldwide. For example, in June, 2004 NPR announced a major expansion of its news operation with plans to invest $15 million over the next three years to add reporters, editors, producers and managers, and to add new foreign and national bureaus. This unprecedented investment and expansion is demonstrative of public radio’s commitment to bring in-depth and top-quality reporting and programming to our growing audience. Public radio audiences hear the results and benefit from this dynamic expansion when correspondents stationed across the nation and throughout the globe are able to bring them growing numbers of voices and perspectives. Internationally, NPR supports 4 NPR News bureaus and 10 offices. Today, international news comprises more than one-third of NPR News. The conflict in Iraq, for example, has kept a dozen NPR reporters and producers rotating through Baghdad. Public radio station reporters are frequent and regular contributors to NPR programming. Mark Moran, of my own station, KJZZ, reports routinely on events impacting Arizona and America’s southwest. Eric Niiler, of KPBS in San Diego, was imbedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and filed very important stories found nowhere else on the radio dial. Literally dozens of stories each month, carried nationally, originate from local reporters who are on staff at public radio stations. Inseparable from public radio’s commitment of service to America’s communities is our commitment to the presentation of fair, accurate and comprehensive information. As a former Board Chair for NPR, I know that it is pledged to abide scrupulously by the highest journalistic, editorial and artistic standards and practices of broadcast programming. It is committed to providing diverse and balanced viewpoints through the entirety of its programming. As a news organization, NPR recognizes its coverage must withstand the same rigorous probing, testing and questioning it applies to the events it covers. While the following are unique to NPR, several of its policy initiatives are worth mentioning and are illustrative of practices employed throughout public radio. First, NPR is the only broadcast organization in the United States that has an ombudsman. Established in February 2000, the role of the NPR Ombudsman is to serve as an advocate for NPR listeners; to ensure that the highest standards of journalism are constantly maintained at NPR; to receive, investigate and respond to queries regarding editorial standards in programming; and, to serve as an independent source of information, explanation, amplification and analysis for the public regarding NPR’s programming and NPR’s adherence to its programming standards and practices. The ombudsman is completely independent of NPR staff and management, reports directly to the President and, through the President, to NPR’s Board of Directors. Secondly, NPR News is guided by a Code of Ethics and Practices as a way of protecting the credibility of its programming by ensuring the highest standards of honesty, integrity, impartiality and conduct of staff. This code, recently updated by NPR’s Vice President of News, covers all NPR journalists, defined as employees who report (including hosts and newscasters), edit or produce news programming. It also covers all senior News managers and applies to all platforms for NPR News content, including NPR Online. The code articulates the ethical standards NPR observes in the pursuit and presentation of stories; it sets rules and policies to prevent conflicts of interest; it establishes guidelines for outside work and activities that may reflect on NPR; and it establishes policies and procedures to ensure that the activities of NPR that fall outside journalism – corporate underwriting, foundation funding, marketing and promotional activities – do not jeopardize NPR’s journalistic independence or involve NPR reporters, editors, hosts or producers in activities inappropriate to their role as journalists. Thirdly, NPR News adheres to guidelines on commentary that are part of NPR’s weekday air. All commentaries airing on NPR must meet certain standards, including: · Rigorous fact-checking to ensure accuracy. If a commentary is aired with errors of fact, an on-air correction will occur. · Pairing commentaries aired on controversial subjects with other points of view on that subject in a timely way. NPR lets the listener know this will happen and takes steps to ensure that it does. · Underscore for listeners why commentators are appropriate to the subjects they discuss. · Assuring that all in the News management staff, including the Vice President for News and Information, share responsibility for commentary content. Mr. Chairman, NPR and public radio have long been leaders in establishing standards for confronting the ethical issues of the daily practice of journalism. Just recently, Al Stavitsky, Associate Dean of Journalism at the University of Oregon, and Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ombudsman for National Public Radio, have completed an ethics guide. With financial help from CPB, Messrs. Stavitsky’s and Dvorkin’s work, Independence and Integrity II: An Updated Ethics Guide for Public Radio Journalism, has been published. As Mr. Dvorkin describes it, the guide “…deals with some of the most important ethical issues that confront public radio journalism on a daily basis – questions about how to deal with and evaluate sources, correcting errors, reporting vs. punditry, relations with public radio underwriters and funders….” The publication of this document allows and encourages those of us at the station level to further refine the efforts of our local news departments. It reaches us at an opportune and important time for public radio and for journalism generally. Scandals and embarrassments at some of America’s well-regarded news outlets have prompted a new wave of skepticism from the public. While public radio has not been part of these episodes, the Updated Ethics Guide is an important tool for all in public radio. Public Radio’s Audience: The audience listening to public radio station programming reflects the distinctive, catalytic partnership that exists between local public radio stations serving local audiences across the country and national programming entities like NPR, Public Radio International, and other producers of public radio programming. Roughly one in ten Americans tunes to an NPR station in a given week and more than one in every four college-educated adults listens to NPR stations. This is an audience reach that exceeds the combined readership of the nation’s top 46 newspapers and the respective weekly readership of Newsweek magazine and Time magazine. While retaining its deep local roots and focus on balanced, objective and in-depth programming, public radio has evolved dramatically in recent years. For example, in the past four years, NPR’s audience has grown by more than sixty percent while in the last decade its audience has doubled. This growth has occurred in public radio while audiences tuning into commercial stations have declined over the same period. Public radio stations attract and retain listeners because our programming engages them in their daily routines, offers insight and perspective on the events that shape communities, states, our nation and the world. Our listeners are politically active and involved in their communities. Almost one-third of listeners classify themselves as very or somewhat conservative; 30 percent feel that they are in the middle of the political spectrum; and 29 percent describe themselves as very or somewhat liberal. Fully 62 percent of NPR listeners voted in local, state and federal elections, while approximately 94 percent stated that they participated in community or political activities in the past year. Financial Profile: The funding profile of public radio stations has changed dramatically in recent years. In 2001, local community support grew to 53 percent of a station’s total revenue, up from 38 percent in 1992. Federal financial support, while a vital component of local station operations, stands at only 14 percent of total revenue for an average station. This is down from 22 percent in 1992. Over the same time frame, total station revenue grew from roughly $310 million in 1992 to approximately $725 million in 2003. Public radio stations operate today because of the federal financial support your subcommittee and the Congress provide, but also because they have won the loyalty, trust and support of listeners, local businesses and foundations through programming that is compelling and worthy. The challenges confronting public radio today – the necessity of converting an aging analog broadcasting infrastructure to a digital system; technical and cost constraints that limit expansion of public radio signals to unserved and underserved areas; improving programming service to existing listeners and reaching new audiences; and, decreasing financial support from state and local governments – all place significant financial stress on the system. Reaching underserved areas and audiences while improving existing services is now more important than ever, as current events demand an informed and engaged public. In this era of commercial media consolidation, public radio is unmatched in its ability to deliver in-depth, balanced, objective coverage of our cities, country and the world. Federal financial support has not kept pace with the growth in listeners, a situation that only adds to local station problems. This imbalance translates into staff reductions and reduced hours of local programming. Capital improvements are postponed, news staff growth is delayed and the expansion of initiatives to better serve communities simply doesn’t occur. To accomplish their public service mission and to improve the quality and expand the quantity of daily programming, America’s public radio stations need the continued financial support the Congress provides. As you consider reauthorization of CPB, it may be time to bring funding levels in line with the growth in audience. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I recognize the fiscal challenges Congress confronts in making funding decisions each fiscal year. I would suggest that the partnership existing between Congress, CPB, and public radio and television stations is extraordinarily effective. For every dollar provided to public radio stations through CPB grants, the stations raise an additional eight dollars. Everything we do is nurtured, directly or indirectly, by the funding you have provided. Viewed another way, federal support for public radio stations amounts to only 30 cents per American. Public Radio’s Digital Transition: One of the most important, immediate and far-reaching challenges of public radio stations is found in the technology used to reach listeners. Radio, the most ubiquitous, most accessed content delivery medium in the United States remains dependent on an aging analog transmission system. But change is on the way. In October 2002, the Federal Communications Commission endorsed a technology for radio stations to use to begin the conversion from analog to digital broadcasting. The Commission’s landmark decision has opened a transition path that public radio stations must follow. This new technology opens the door to expanded service for public radio in a way that is revolutionary in enhancing service to listeners, in improving sound quality, and in creating a means of affordable programming expansion. In the United States, public radio, through NPR and its member stations, has been at the forefront of digital radio development since its inception. WGUC Cincinnati experimented with digital stereo transmissions in 1985. WGBH Boston conducted similar experimental broadcasts in the evening hours in the late 1980’s. By 1987, NPR became the first broadcaster to suggest to the Federal Communications Commission the need for system development and future frequency allocations for digital radio applications in the United States. NPR and public radio stations have become recognized leaders in this important technology transformation. Just weeks after the FCC’s 2002 decision, NPR announced the Tomorrow Radio project, with partners in the private sector renowned for their expertise in transmission and radio receiver know-how. The principal goal of NPR’s Tomorrow Radio effort was to test multi-channel or supplemental audio technology that could allow public radio stations to broadcast more programming and content using their existing spectrum. Quite simply, this means that public radio stations can utilize digital broadcast technology to carry two or more streams of programming on the same channel, or frequency. For public radio stations nationwide, this revolutionary technology will permit the broadcast of multiple audio programs for the modest price of a new digital broadcast system. Prior to Tomorrow Radio, public radio’s only alternative for program expansion was the acquisition of an entirely new radio frequency, often technically and financially not achievable. With budgets already tight, very few public radio stations could afford to increase their programming services through new signal acquisitions. However, the Tomorrow Radio format will permit a program expansion for just a fraction of the cost. It is estimated that the total cost of converting public radio’s 800 full power stations and 800 translator and repeater stations is $171.7 million, with the average station transition cost estimated to be $130,000. In previous testimony before other congressional committees, CPB has communicated that the anticipated federal share of this transition cost is estimated to be $77.3 million. The driving force behind public radio’s digital transition is not just the improved audio quality and reduced interference, but the expanded public service and programming opportunities. In addition to supplemental audio channel capability, digital broadcasting will provide on-demand delivery of programming; features that allow listeners to interact with stations and to tailor services to their own unique needs and interests; expanded weather alerts, continuous traffic reports, emergency and Amber alerts; non-English broadcasts; and expanded assisted-living services such as reading services for the visually impaired and even digitally captioned broadcasts for the hearing impaired. The FCC has been very encouraging in exploring the use of expanded services inherent in digital radio. The four public radio stations that formed the test markets for NPR’s Tomorrow Radio project were given experimental operating licenses by the FCC. Also, Commissioners Abernathy, Martin and Copps each spoke of the benefits consumers will realize from digital radio, including the development of innovative offerings such as multiple audio streams. Digital radio enthusiasts in the public radio community have embraced the expectations of Commissioners Abernathy, Martin and Copps to fully explore the expansion of service provided by this new technology. To date, 151 public radio stations have been offered transition assistance from CPB and approximately 20 are on the air, including WAMU and WETA in the Washington area. CPB has committed some $23.5m to support public radio’s digital transition and it recently announced transition grant guidelines for Phase III of the conversion, which is open to all CPB-qualified public radio stations. If station response to this grant opportunity is on par with the previous two, I believe more than 250 public radio stations will be well down the road to digital broadcasting by the end of calendar year 2004. The FCC released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on April 15, with comments due June 15 and reply comments July 15. There was overwhelming support by public (and commercial radio stations too) for multicasting specifically, and for digital radio generally. We remain hopeful that sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, the Commission will issue an additional report and order that permits multicasting. Public Radio’s Satellite System: In addition to its role as a content provider, NPR manages and sets policy for the public radio satellite system, which encourages and facilitates the exchange of programs from all over the world. The system is open to all public telecommunications users, including NPR’s member stations, freelancers, reporters, producers, and program syndicators. Each year, thousands of hours of news, music, and specialized audience programming are distributed to public radio stations throughout the United States via the Public Radio Satellite System® (PRSS). The PRSS is operated and managed by the Distribution Division of National Public Radio®, Inc. (NPR). Originally built in 1979 with funds provided by Congress through CPB, the PRSS currently is undergoing its most significant upgrade since its initial construction. This upgrade will take advantage of technological innovations to streamline how public radio stations and producers select, send, acquire, and automate programming. Structure: The PRSS is a distinctive, cooperative enterprise. Interconnected stations own their own downlink and uplink equipment. The Public Radio Satellite Interconnection System Charitable Trust owns the satellite transponder capacity, as well as the national operating system equipment located in Washington, D.C. Today, the PRSS includes more than 400 downlinks. Many additional stations also receive programming sent over the satellite through local connections with downlink stations. The System Technical Center (STC) is located at NPR headquarters in Washington, DC. Finances: The PRSS is entirely self-sufficient in covering its annual operating costs. The interconnected public radio stations and program providers support the satellite system through the payment of fees that reflect their share of the annual costs of operating and managing the PRSS. In addition, excess transponder capacity is sold to non-public radio users to help offset the costs of operating the system. Major infrastructure costs for the PRSS are met by periodic federal appropriations, administered through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Access: The PRSS is open to all public telecommunications entities, including independent producers; program syndicators and distributors; national, state, and local organizations; and public radio stations. Stations who receive programming distributed by the PRSS range from those located in remote villages in northern Alaska and on Indian reservations in the Southwest, to major market stations such as WNYC in New York and KUSC in Los Angeles. Programs distributed over the Public Radio Satellite System come from NPR, Public Radio International (PRI), Minnesota Public Radio and more than 200 other radio producers and organizations. Formats include news, public affairs, drama, documentaries, classical music, jazz, and many others. In-Kind Services: An important mission of the PRSS is to facilitate the cost-effective and efficient distribution of high-quality, educational programming to this country’s increasingly diverse population. As part of that mission, the PRSS provides satellite transmission services to distribute programming that targets unserved or underserved audiences, from sources who meet certain criteria established by the NPR Board, including demonstrated financial need. At the present time, the PRSS extends in-kind support to American Indian Radio on Satellite (AIROS), a program service based in Lincoln, Nebraska, that targets Native American listeners, and to Satélite Radio Bilingüe, a Spanish language program service managed by Radio Bilingüe in Fresno, California. Training & Outreach: The Distribution/Interconnection Technology Training Initiative was created in 2001 to address the growing need for more awareness and knowledge in the public radio community about new technologies-particularly technologies related to program and content distribution. In addition to providing training, the Initiative is working to expand the diversity of talent in public radio by promoting technical careers in the industry to young people, minorities, and others through outreach and education efforts. Governance: The NPR Board of Directors governs the PRSS. The Distribution/Interconnection Committee (D/I Committee) of the NPR Board is charged with proposing rates and policy to the Board and overseeing the operation and management of the Public Radio Satellite System. The composition of the D/I Committee is unique, consisting of both Board and non-Board members. The non-Board members represent the interests of non-NPR users of the distribution system, including independent producers, other program distributors, non-member stations, and other organizations and entities in public radio. The presence of non-Board members on the Committee reflects NPR’s role as manager of an interconnection system that serves all public telecommunications entities needing distribution services. The non-Board members of the D/I Committee are elected by the NPR Board and confirmed by the interconnected stations. ContentDepot®: Public radio’s new program distribution system, the “ContentDepot,” will continue to incorporate satellite distribution, as this technology continues to provide the most cost-effective and reliable means of delivering high quality audio programming to a diverse national network of radio stations. But the new system will also introduce use of the Internet, web-based interfaces, and enhanced station automation control to increase flexibility in the ways stations receive and store programs and other information from the PRSS. NPR Distribution began laying the foundation for the ContentDepot in 2001 by managing a major overhaul of station downlink equipment. This project outfitted interconnected stations across the U.S. with equipment that enables them to better access satellite backup capacity in the event public radio’s satellite capacity fails, is attacked, or otherwise becomes unavailable. Because of its broad scope, the realization of the full ContentDepot vision will take several years and ultimately will have a significant impact on radio station operations and program distribution practices. Conclusion: Public radio’s long-standing commitment to serving America’s communities with deep, engaged, long-form radio journalism sets it apart from all other broadcasters. Listeners have come to rely on public radio during the most intense news periods in our nation’s history. We have set the bar of public expectations exceedingly high because we’re capable of providing service that isn’t found anywhere else. We respect the public in ways that have been long forgotten in American broadcasting. Our relationship with listeners is not transactional. It is a relationship of values. Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, thanks for this opportunity to support the reauthorization of CPB and to provide a summary of public radio in America today.
Mr. Peter A. Frid
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am Peter Frid, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of New Hampshire Public Television. It is an honor to have the opportunity to testify today on behalf of the Association of Public Television Stations, which represents 150 local stations across America. Mr. Chairman, public television stations are as distinct as the communities they serve. Prior to joining NHPTV in 1996, I had the opportunity to manage public TV and radio stations in Corpus Christi, Texas; Juneau, Alaska; and Long Island, New York. What these and other stations have in common is their mission: striving to serve the individual needs of their communities. While both technology and the media landscape have changed greatly since passage of the 1967 Public Broadcasting Act, the mission of public television stations remains constant: to serve the local public interest through education, culture and citizenship. Public Television’s Commitment to Localism I emphasize the word “local” because, simply put, public television stations’ localism is without rival today. Each station is engaged in meeting its local community needs for relevant programming, education and outreach. Licensed to the University of New Hampshire, NHPTV, along with the other 175 individual public television licensees nationwide, is and will remain locally controlled, operated, and programmed. As the Committee takes the first step toward reauthorizing the Public Broadcasting Act, we hope that you will recognize the enormous significance and value of having at least one locally controlled television station in every media market. Mr. Chairman, on behalf of public television stations, let me express our support for the bipartisan approach that you and Ranking Member Hollings have taken to reauthorizing the Public Broadcasting Act. It strikes the right balance between reform and not trying to fix what isn’t broken. If enacted, it will ensure the uniqueness of public television’s mission of public service to our communities. How Public Television Serves Communities It is fair to ask if public television is necessary in today’s 500-channel television world; if the missions of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 are still relevant. The answer is that this institution is more necessary now than in 1967 for many reasons, but let me briefly offer three: Education Services. NHPTV’s “Knowledge Network” provides education services at all levels, from early childhood learning to distance learning to teacher professional development. One example of our innovative approach to promoting literacy in the community is a program we established with the New Hampshire Department of Corrections to reconnect prisoners with their children through reading. Project Story Time videotapes prisoners reading an age-appropriate book, then the tape and book are shared with the child and custodial family to encourage family literacy and bonding. Public television’s unique children’s programming service, known as Ready To Learn, has no parallel in commercial children’s television. Ready To Learn combines the high-quality children’s programming and curriculum materials provided by PBS with the local outreach workshops offered by local stations and achieves measurable improvement in early childhood learning. For our state, this is one of the most successful educational outreach efforts we’ve ever undertaken, far exceeding what we originally envisioned. NHPTV is also proud to offer online teacher training through the PBS TeacherLine service, which is aligned to individual state curriculum standards. Both of these programs were authorized by No Child Left Behind and together receive about $47 million in grants from the Department of Education. We have leveraged those grants with local foundation and corporate funds that have allowed us to reach every corner of New Hampshire through broadcast, the Web, and face-to-face community workshops. However, these and other educational services would not exist without the delivery system of independent local stations backed by our national programming service, PBS. Public Affairs Coverage. Mr. Chairman, you were a frequent visitor to our state in 2000 and of course are familiar with the presidential primary debates that New Hampshire Public Television sponsored. But candidate access to our airwaves is not limited to high-profile races; we are equally proud of the debates, candidate forums and ongoing public affairs coverage we provide for local races throughout each election year. For instance, in 2002, we broadcast seven separate federal or statewide candidate debates and will do the same this year. And our nightly public affairs program, NH Outlook, offers substantial direct access for, and coverage of, political candidates at all levels. In 2002 alone, we provided in-depth profiles of more than a dozen mainstream and third-party candidates and conducted many more in-studio interviews. We are proud of our ability to offer candidates free, unfiltered access to the public. Universal Service. Third, the long-established national policy of truly free, universal service dates to the Communications Act of 1934 and it is literally a responsibility for public television. Earlier, I mentioned today’s 500-channel world. But it is important to recall that this world exists only for those households that pay for cable and satellite subscription services. At least one in five Americans are not part of that world and many more households have over-the-air television sets that are not connected to such a service. Some of those Americans are economically disadvantaged. Some are in rural areas or on reservations and literally don’t have the choice of subscription services. Many of them truly have the greatest need for the services we provide. In any case, connecting these Americans to our services is reason enough for the Congress to provide support for public television. NHPTV’s ability to serve both the urban and the very rural parts of New Hampshire is critical to bringing our state together. Steve Barba of the Balsams in Dixville Notch often mentions that our station affords him access to New Hampshire-based programming by connecting him to the state. Through our programs, NHPTV affords the residents of the Great North Woods a share of voice. CPB Funding and Localism Your bill, Mr. Chairman, would continue the critical funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) that is the lifeblood of our stations. Nearly all of that funding is distributed directly to stations by formula in the form of Community Service Grants. This funding represents on average 15 percent of most stations’ budgets, and is critical to our ability to fulfill the missions I described. In addition to the community service grants, CPB has also provided critical funding for special projects that have helped us to meet special local needs. For instance, a CPB-funded grant from the National Center for Outreach allowed NHPTV to initiate “The Partnership for a Safe New Hampshire” project. The station brought together the NH Library Association, Volunteer NH, and UNH Cooperative Extension to hold eight forums to help geographically diverse communities address emergency management and preparedness for homeland security. In short, Mr. Chairman, the annual appropriation that Congress provides to CPB has a real and measurable impact on ensuring that local stations can fulfill the twin objectives of localism and public service. We appreciate that your draft reauthorization bill does not tear down this proven system. As our stations raise most of their budgets in the community, they must be responsive to local needs. We believe it follows that expanding the input of the local stations in governing CPB would improve the responsiveness of the system to fulfilling localism objectives. Current law designates two of the nine seats on the CPB Board to be filled by representatives of local public radio and television stations. Mr. Chairman, we propose that this number be increased to four of the nine seats, allowing more system representation to be introduced to the Board gradually, as existing Board terms expire. Reforming the governance of CPB in this manner creates more accountability for the local stations to ensure that funding is used according to the objectives of Congress. It also increases CPB’s accountability to the communities the stations serve. We hope your final bill includes this provision. The Digital Transition Mr. Chairman, if one accepts that public television’s mission has grown since 1967, we are fortunate today to have a 21st century delivery system to meet it. I am speaking of course of digital television, which has geometrically expanded our capacity to meet our mission. Since the DTV transition began, our system has raised more than $1 billion to make the conversion. As of today, 264 of the country’s 357 PTV stations are transmitting a digital signal in markets that include more than 87 percent of households, and we are optimistic that most of the remainder will be on the air by the end of this year. Our true challenge now is to move from simply delivering a digital signal, to creating and delivering actual digital services. For instance, our stations have pledged to devote one-quarter of their digital bandwidth to educational programming. Also, many of our stations are creating public service datacasting services such as offering a portion of their bandwidth for local emergency alert communications. It is no exaggeration to say that our local stations view digital as their greatest opportunity ever to serve the public and we are grateful that your draft reauthorization bill would help us to fulfill that promise. Allow me to highlight key portions of the bill in this regard: First, the draft bill reauthorizes two key programs, CPB’s digital fund and the Department of Commerce’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program. Why two programs? The CPB digital program is a temporary one aimed at putting stations on the air in digital, while PTFP, which predates DTV by 35 years, is an ongoing competitive matching grant program that funds infrastructure. A 2002 PTFP grant paid for the digital conversion of our transmitter and tower in Keene, southwestern New Hampshire. The PTFP program is a good investment for the federal government in the truest sense of the word for it allows us to leverage revenue from local sources and we appreciate your support for it. Second, the bill expands the definition of what may be funded to include datacasting services. Such services take digital television beyond the television set, for instance, allowing a station to directly transmit video curriculum to schools or to provide a platform for emergency communications. At NHPTV we see enormous potential to enhance our work with K-12, higher education, and the New Hampshire Office of Emergency Management through datacasting. Third, the bill authorizes funding to build a new interconnection system that will link PTV stations with each other and the national programming service. Interconnection was at the heart of the original Public Broadcasting Act. While it is unseen by viewers it is literally the backbone of public television, as it serves as the national programming transport system. The current system must be replaced soon as satellite contracts are expiring. Congress appropriated a down payment last year, and this bill provides the authorization to finish the job—and, I might add, replace radio’s separate interconnection system when the time comes. Allow me to offer one additional thought about the DTV transition. The law requires public stations, along with commercial stations, to return their analog spectrum to the government when the DTV transition is complete. As you know, some experts estimate that, absent policy changes, the transition could drag on for more than a decade. In fact, a 2002 NAB study pegged the so-called “natural” transition date at 2021. Mr. Chairman, when presented with the opportunities that digital broadcast could offer in our ability to enhance our service to our communities, public television embraced this project. In New Hampshire, we have been extremely fortunate that our University and the New Hampshire State Legislature embraced the potential of digital as well. Recently, the University System of New Hampshire Chancellor, Stephen Reno, stated before the Governor’s Capital Project Hearing that the continued funding of NHPTV’s digital conversion is critical to the University’s plan to have the station play a key role in delivering distance learning to our state. But, with this asset in place, we are still challenged by the necessity of maintaining our analog transmitters as well. This will contribute significantly to the complexities of operations, additional electrical costs and, if the deadline to shutting off our analog signal is significantly delayed, the prospect of having to replace at least one if not two of our analog transmitters. Nationwide, our stations currently spend an estimated $36 million per year to run two redundant transmitters, and about $20 million per year replacing analog equipment. Those costs together exceed the $50 million Congress appropriated last year to CPB for digital funding. We look forward to the day when this money can be invested in the delivery of valued services to our state and not the re-investment in old and costly technology. As our association testified before this committee on June 9, many of our stations would be willing to voluntarily surrender their analog spectrum early if three conditions existed: full post-transitional carriage of our signals on cable and satellite; the availability of low-cost converter boxes; and—you guessed it—a new stream of funding derived from the eventual auction of PTV stations’ spectrum. In this case, NHPTV, for instance, might be capable of returning our analog spectrum by 2006, well before the January 1, 2009 “hard date” proposed by the FCC Media Bureau. Public television stations occupy 21 percent of the broadcast spectrum and we are eager to work with this committee to develop a plan for returning it to the government as soon as practicable. Allowing public television to benefit from at least some of the proceeds raised by auctioning that spectrum is a win-win for the public. First, as Committee members like Senator Sununu and Senator Ensign have noted, the economic activity that would be generated by freeing up this spectrum for other uses would be an enormous boost to the economy. Most experts believe that activity would far exceed the actual dollar value of the spectrum itself. Second, a consensus of witnesses at the June 9 hearing agreed that an early clearing of only part of the broadcast band—for instance, the 21 percent of it held by PTV stations—would harness market forces to accelerate the DTV transition. Our association has proposed that at least a portion of the revenue derived from auctioning PTV’s spectrum be used to create a fund dedicated to digital educational services, but there are many options worthy of consideration. The distinguished Ranking Member, Senator Hollings, has some thoughtful ideas in this regard and we appreciate the time and attention that he has given this issue in the final year of his great public service career. In sum, Mr. Chairman, we respectfully ask that the Committee approve reauthorization of the Public Broadcasting Act to ensure public television’s near-term future, and that it move immediately to take advantage of the historic opportunity created by the DTV transition as a means to ensuring public television will be an effective institution of public service for generations to come. Thank you and I look forward to your questions. # # #
Ms. Loris Ann Vicente-Taylor
Click here for a PDF version of Ms. Taylor's remarks.
Ms. Kathleen A. Cox
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for inviting me to testify before you today on the reauthorization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. My thanks as well to the committee staff on both sides of the aisle for the thoughtful and constructive approach they have taken to amending the Public Broadcasting Act, and particularly for the courteous and attentive hearing they have given to our comments. Before turning to the legislation, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself to the committee, and to say a few words about how I see CPB’s role and where I think our most important tasks lie. First of all, on day twelve of my tenure as President of CPB, I must say that I am indeed honored to be at this hearing. As the former General Counsel of CPB, I worked with the Public Broadcasting Act on a nearly daily basis, and I welcome the opportunity to work toward its reauthorization. Nearly 40 years ago, recognizing the potential power of broadcast technology to serve the public interest, the predecessor to this committee was instrumental in creating the public broadcasting system. The result is an extraordinary, distinctive, community-based partnership embracing public broadcasting, the American people, and their elected representatives. This partnership has yielded compelling public service programming and services without parallel in the media history of this country. We are now at a moment that calls for similar foresight, reflection and judgment. Broadcasting is undergoing its biggest period of change since the arrival of the television. As recently as the early 1990s, broadcasting was available on only a handful of channels, satellite broadcasting hardly existed, and no one beyond a few research workers had even heard of the Internet, let alone thought that it had anything to do with television. Today digital cable and satellite channels are booming. The Internet has changed the very fabric of our lives and is transforming society. Along with these dazzling breakthroughs in communication and information technologies come some critical policy issues: How do we make sure that all Americans have access to these new and increasingly essential technologies? How can we ensure that the public interest is served in the Information Age? Public broadcasting is a structure in which a series of competing, sometimes almost contradictory goals are balanced. It is a system that receives federally appropriated dollars, yet remains free of government control of its content. Equally important, for our purposes today, it is a system composed of local broadcasters who have nearly total autonomy over their programming, services and finances, yet one that must be collectively strong enough to the meet the needs of a national audience. At the center of that structure is CPB. CPB is a private, non-profit corporation, outside the government enclave. It is prohibited from producing or distributing programming, but responsible for facilitating high quality content for the system of stations and the American public. CPB may not itself broadcast or own or control stations. Instead it acts as an honest broker, administering and distributing the appropriations to stations and producers and providing the guidance and insight that comes with a system-wide view. It is also a heat shield, insulating public broadcasters from government efforts to exercise undue influence on editorial freedom. We don’t make the programs, or broadcast them; we don’t do outreach or raise funds. But we can help create the conditions in which these things – and so many more – can happen. Freed from the day-to-day decisions about what program to air, CPB can take the long view. We can look at the system as a whole, not station by station, spotting problems and identifying possible solutions. And when there are unmet needs – for a certain kind of programming, or research, or training – we can step in to provide it. CPB is guided by the principle of localism – that local stations make the best decisions about public broadcasting in their own communities. But localism does not mean – and cannot mean – local only. CPB’s ability to direct resources to system-wide needs ultimately offers more benefits to individual stations than they would otherwise receive. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, CPB does for the community of stations what they “cannot do at all in their separate and individual capacities.” National programming, for example, is not something set apart from the work of stations, but a resource that draws viewers (and ultimately members), and that educates, informs, enlightens, and enables them to participate more fully in the lives of their communities. So CPB is conducting the biggest audience research project in public broadcasting history. The results will help producers and programmers ground decision-making about primetime public television in knowledge about audiences and members – effectively bringing audiences into the room when decisions are being made. We’ve also launched America at a Crossroads, an ambitious effort to bring new voices and viewpoints into the important national conversation about America after September 11. We’ve received more than 425 proposals – the most in our history – and 361 of them were from first-time applicants. This fall, we will launch Maya and Miguel, a program for kids old enough to have graduated from Sesame Street, and one that speaks (sometimes literally) to Latinos, America’s fastest growing minority. CPB’s view across the whole system informs more than programming. Just one example: CPB funded a study of public television finances that identified major gifts as an untapped revenue source for stations. Again working with the station community, we developed a curriculum that every station can use to develop and implement a major giving plan. The response has been overwhelming – we expect that more than 120 licensees will participate in the initiative. With strong support from Congress, we have also been able to assist public television stations to meet the deadline for digital broadcast, and we are working collaboratively on ways to use new technology to enhance station and system efficiency. The Public Broadcasting Act has proven itself resilient in the face of change, and its goals are perhaps more relevant than ever in these days of media consolidation and frenetic commercialism. While we agree with the motivations behind the suggested changes to the Act, CPB believes that most of these goals can be accomplished within the current framework of the statute as it exists today. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the Committee, with the goal of making public broadcasting available and accessible to all Americans. Again, I thank this committee for its major role in the creation and nurturing of public broadcasting, and look forward to continuing to work with you. I will be happy to take your questions. Appendix to the Statement of Kathleen Cox President & CEO, Corporation of Public Broadcasting Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation July 13, 2004 In my first appearance before the Committee, and the first time in several years that the Committee has considered a reauthorization of CPB, I wanted to provide a primer on how CPB fulfills the charter contained in the Public Broadcasting Act and carries out its responsibilities by encouraging high-quality programming, making grants to local public radio and television stations, and working to strengthen the public telecommunications system. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting In 1967, Congress created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, declaring, “It is in the public interest to encourage the growth and development of public radio and television broadcasting, including the use of such media for instructional, educational and cultural purposes.” For more than 30 years, the federal investment in public broadcasting has offered all Americans access to the highest-quality, non-commercial, educational and cultural programming delivered to their homes, schools and workplaces by means of the most current technology.. With more than 1,000 locally controlled public radio and television stations, public broadcasting forms the largest community-based educational and civic institution in the nation. CPB is the steward of the federal investment in public broadcasting. It administers several grant programs, through which most of the federally allocated funds are sent directly to individual public radio and television stations. But in addition to aiding individual stations, CPB also is responsible for ensuring the strength of the overall system – for example, by funding an interconnection system that allows programming to be distributed and by paying some system-wide costs, like music royalties. Beyond that, CPB is uniquely positioned to assess the health and needs of the system as a whole, and to direct funds to the areas of greatest need. In 2002, concerned about the financial status of the public television station, CPB retained McKinsey and Company to conduct a system-wide review. The findings were disturbing. Every source of funding for public television – individual donations, gifts from foundations, corporate support, and federal, state and local government appropriations – were static or declining. McKinsey also identified key areas that presented opportunities for either increasing station revenues or decreasing costs. In response, CPB launched projects on major giving, operational improvements, and programming strategy – and then, in response to requests from the stations themselves – added local services to the list. All of these projects are well underway, and we anticipate a similar examination of public radio issues in the near future. This kind of system-wide approach offers benefits to local broadcasters that go beyond efficiencies of scale. It frees them to focus on the pressing needs of their own stations, while drawing on the research and opportunities provided by CPB. CPB provides a vital service by offering fact-based research on a range of issues, from finances to programming, and by funding initiatives that individual stations cannot. How the Public Broadcasting System Operates In contrast to commercial broadcasting, which is increasingly centralized, the public broadcasting system is very decentralized. Every public broadcasting outlet is under local control or ownership; increasingly, they are the only locally owned and operated media outlets in their communities. With local governing boards, community advisors, volunteers, and partnerships with local organizations, stations work to provide programs and services responsive to the needs of their communities. Each local station maintains sole authority and responsibility for selecting, presenting or producing the programs that it airs. Congress placed control of programming with local stations rather than CPB. It ensured this autonomy by prohibiting CPB from owning or operating any television or radio station, system or network, and barring it from producing, scheduling or disseminating programs to the public. Instead, CPB operates within congressionally prescribed guidelines to provide financial support and services to 560 licensees operating more than 1,000 television and radio stations that deliver educational services and programming to virtually every household in the country. Congress has mandated that a majority of CPB’s appropriation be allocated for direct station support. Our obligation to Congress and the American people is to ensure that this money is being spent wisely and efficiently. Our obligation to stations is to insulate them from the political process, and to ensure that their receipt of federal support in no way interferes with their ability to operate as free and independent broadcasters, as prescribed by law. In addition to our financial support of stations, CPB complies with the statutory requirement of providing funds to producing entities and independent producers to help them develop a wide range of programming that is then made available to local stations. As encouraged by Congress, CPB provides direct program support to PBS through contractual negotiations for a high-profile national program service, which includes series such as Nova, American Experience, Sesame Street and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. CPB does not provide direct program support to NPR, which competes with other producers for CPB radio program funds on a program-by-program basis. CPB also provides programming dollars to entities such as the Independent Television Service (ITVS), five separate entities collectively known as the National Minority Consortia, and many independent producers and producing organizations, all of which are entirely independent of CPB. This enables stations to acquire programming independently from a wide variety of sources. Public television stations choose their programs from the following sources, among others: · PBS, which provides more than 1200 hours a year of children’s, prime time, and other educational programming from which its member stations can choose. · APT, which acquires programs that may be purchased by stations on a title-by-title basis. These include series and specials such as Nightly Business Report and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home. APT also maintains the largest source of free programming available to U.S. public television stations. · ITVS, which funds, distributes and promotes independently produced television programs. ITVS films have been nominated for Academy Awards for the last three years in a row, and for four primetime Emmys this year alone. · The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), which annually distributes about 2,000 hours of programming -- produced by public television stations, other entities and independent producers -- via satellite to stations nationwide. Public radio stations also get their programming from a wide variety of sources: · Local productions typically account for about half of programming. In the Washington, D.C. area, for example, WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show and Stained Glass Bluegrass, to name just two programs, are locally produced, as is much of WETA’s classical music programming. · 36 percent is from NPR, including news and information programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and The Tavis Smiley Show, cultural programming like Jazz from Lincoln Center and The Thistle and the Shamrock, and entertainment programming like Car Talk and Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! · 10 percent is obtained from PRI, which distributes programs like Marketplace and and operates a Capitol Hill news bureau that offers a local eye on national events. · 5 percent is from other producers, including other public radio stations. For example, The Diane Rehm Show, produced at WAMU, is heard on stations around the country. How CPB Distributes its Appropriation CPB distributes its funds based on a formula set forth in the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (47 U.S.C. 396(k)(3): · At least 6 percent of its appropriation for certain statutorily enumerated expenses for the system of stations (i.e., music royalties, interconnection expenses, ITVS and minority consortia operational expenses, etc.) · Not more than 5 percent for administrative expenses The remaining 89 percent is allocated to stations as follows: · 75 percent for public television q 75 percent of which is for grants to television stations q 25 percent of which is for television programming · 25 percent for public radio q 70 percent of which is for radio station grants q 23 percent of which is for radio program acquisition grants q 7 percent of which is for radio programming A schematic diagram of the flow of the funds is as follows: Grants To Stations The statute directs CPB to provide a grant to each station in accordance with eligibility criteria and on the basis of a formula designed to (1) provide for the financial needs and requirements of stations in relation to the communities and audiences such stations undertake to serve; (2) maintain existing, and stimulate new, sources of non-federal financial support for stations by providing incentives for increases in such support; and (3) assure that each eligible licensee and permittee of a public station receives a basic grant (47 U.S.C.A. 396(k)(6)(B)). Local television and radio stations are the bedrock of the public broadcasting system. They are community institutions working in partnership with schools, libraries, and other community organizations to provide news and information, children's, local public affairs, and cultural programming for their viewers and listeners. There are many types of stations -- state networks that provide service across an entire state and receive significant support from their state government; tiny rural stations that offer the only local news in a town or a region; major city stations that produce national programs; joint licensees that operate both public television and radio stations; and stations owned by universities or school systems. Each of these stations is governed by its own board of directors, provides its own brand of program options, and faces its own challenges in meeting its financial obligations. CPB’s grant structure, while complex, represents our best efforts to respond to the multiplicity of needs facing public broadcasters. Public Television Stations Television Community Service Grants Almost 50 percent of the money CPB receives is set aside for direct grants to public television stations, known as television community service grants or CSGs. A full-power station operating under a noncommercial, educational Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license qualifies for a CSG if it meets minimum requirements including a minimum level of non-federal financial support, a minimum broadcast schedule, and bookkeeping and programming standards. The CSG is divided into two parts. The first part is the base grant, a percentage of the federal appropriation. In FY 2004, the base grant is $418,000. Designated overlap stations (that is, stations that share a market) share a single base grant for that market. The second part is an incentive grant designed to reward a station according to the amount of non-federal financial support it raises. Every CSG qualifying station receives the incentive part of the grant, which encourages the development of non-federal revenue, as prescribed by the statute. As required by statute, stations use CSGs for purposes “primarily related to the production or acquisition of programming.” Grant amounts vary widely from station to station, based on the amount of non-federal support that each station raises. CPB monitors grant spending through a combination of routine reporting requirements and direct audits conducted by CPB's Office of the Inspector General. In addition to the CSGs, CPB now provides two other types of grants to television stations – the local service grant and the distant service grant. These grants are based on formulas arrived at after extensive consultation throughout the system – with representatives of APTS and PBS, but primarily with station general managers who appreciate the sharply different needs of stations throughout the system. The formulas that they developed are complex, but strike an extraordinary balance between providing support to all and offering special help to those who need it. In this, they reflect the statute’s policy goals by working to maintain universal service. This translates into making extra help available to stations providing services to small and rural communities; encouraging support from local private and public sources; and encouraging efficiency. Local Service Grants. CPB recognizes the special needs and challenges of small stations and the important role they play in providing universal access to free, over-the-air local public television. For that reason, CPB provides additional incentives to stations with less than $2 million in non-federal financial support. The grants are intended to strengthen local services such as outreach initiatives, educational projects and services, operational efficiencies, implementation of best practices, financial planning, and professional development. Distant Service Grants. To recognize the additional costs of serving multiple communities and the efficiency of multiple transmitter operations, and to further the goal of universal service, CPB provides larger grants to single grantees who operate three or more transmitters (stations). The grants are used to strengthen services, including outreach, educational workshops and training, and local content, in these communities Public Radio Stations Radio Community Service Grants (CSGs) Under the statute, CPB provides 15.6 percent of its total appropriation to 384 grantees who operate approximately 700 public radio stations that qualify for radio CSG funding. The grants are designed to address the disparate needs of urban and rural stations. These stations provide outstanding, award-winning news and information, arts and entertainment programming, as well as valuable community services. Sometimes they represent the only local broadcast signal -- commercial or noncommercial -- that a rural community receives. CPB also offers special funding incentives for nearly 60 minority grantees and more than 100 grantees operating in rural environments. A licensee or permittee of a radio station operating under a noncommercial, educational FCC license is eligible to receive a CSG if it satisfies certain minimal requirements relating to power, staff size, on-air time, financial viability, access to non-Federal financial support, record keeping, and programming. Higher grant amounts are available to public radio stations meeting a minimum standard of public service as measured either by the average quarter-hour listening audience, or by the level of local fund-raising support. Grants for Programming CPB is prohibited by law from producing or distributing programming. However, CPB actively encourages promising TV and radio projects, supports independent producers, and helps fund productions by and about minorities. CPB provides funding to the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to support the National Program Service, and CPB's Radio Competitive Funds are the major source of funding for new national radio programs. Television Programming CPB provides an annual grant to support the National Program Service (NPS), the package of television programming that is fed by satellite to PBS member stations in return for their dues payments. This includes signature series like NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and PBS Kids children’s programming, as well as the Sunday-through-Friday prime time schedule. In FY 2004, CPB is providing $22.5 million for the NPS. These funds, which CPB does not administer, support scores of individual programs and provide continuing support for some of public television's signature series. In addition, CPB matches the stations’ contribution to the PBS/CPB Program Challenge Fund, which is intended to stimulate the development of high-impact, innovative television series such as Colonial House, The Blues series and Ken Burns’ American Stories. . CPB also administers a General Program Fund, used to fund educational projects and television programming. It supports a number of proposals on selected topics of national interest that meet the highest standards of excellence. Past projects include Masterpiece Theater’s American Collection, “Accordion Dreams,” and the Memorial Day and July 4th Concerts. High priority is given to programming that illustrates America's rich cultural heritage and ethnic diversity. CPB also provides administrative and programming funds to five multicultural groups known collectively as the National Minority Programming Consortia (National Asian American Telecommunications Association; Native American Public Telecommunications, Inc.; National Black Programming Consortium; Pacific Islanders in Communications; and Latino Public Broadcasting). These groups distribute funds to producers for the development of programs of diverse content. In FY2001, CPB established the Diversity Fund to encourage public television projects that help people think about the complexity and beauty of America’s contemporary multi-cultural society. Two projects supported by the Diversity Fund will air on PBS this fall. During Hispanic Heritage Month, PBS will air Visiones, a series by acclaimed director Hector Galan that will look at the history of Latino Arts and Culture in America. Later this year, PBS will air The Appalachians, a multi-part series looking at the history and legacy of the Appalachain people, and including an interview with Senator Robert Byrd. A companion book and CD will be hosted by Naomi Judd. As directed by Congress, CPB also provides annual programming support to ITVS, which in turn, provides production grants to independent producers developing projects intended for public broadcasting. This support helps CPB meet its statutory requirement that it provide “adequate funds for an independent production service.” ITVS's work is of high quality – one program, “Flag Wars,” won a Peabody Award this year, and “Be Good, Smile Pretty” has been nominated for a national Emmy award – and ensures that public television benefits from the strong voices of independent producers whose stories resonate particularly with underrepresented and underserved audiences. Radio Programming Since 1987, CPB has directly supported the production of radio programs intended for national audiences. Throughout its history, CPB has awarded about three of every four radio programming grants to national projects by or about ethnic groups and to projects by independent producers. All CPB-funded radio programs are made available nationally to all public radio stations. CPB continues to give highest consideration to excellent, balanced, and innovative programming from diverse sources. In addition, all Community Service Grant recipients are required to use approximately 30 percent of this grant for the purpose of purchasing or producing programming of national interest. These grants ensure the availability of some of the best programming public radio has to offer by targeting use of the funds to the purchase or production of national programming. System Support Funds By law, CPB spends at least 6 percent of the funds it receives to support the public broadcasting system, as opposed to individual stations or producers. CPB often supplements this amount with funds from its administrative allocation. System support expenditures include: · Interconnection grants. These are provided to public television stations specifically to purchase or maintain equipment allowing each local station to receive or deliver signals via satellite. By law, half of the interconnection costs for television are funded with system support funds through these grants. · Music royalty fees for broadcast and Internet use for all CPB-funded public television and radio stations, as well as for NPR and PBS. · Operational costs for ITVS and Minority Consortia. · Promoting work force diversity and career development for minority producers. · Financing public broadcasting award programs, strategic planning, and research into new technologies. CPB Administrative Operations In 1988, Congress set CPB's administrative budget at a fixed level with annual increases to be based on the Consumer Price Index or 4 percent-- whichever is higher. In no instance may the administrative costs exceed 5 percent of the total appropriation. CPB’s OVERSIGHT OBLIGATION Compliance with Funding Requirements The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, as amended, and federal appropriations place responsibilities on CPB for the distribution, use and reporting of appropriated funds. This responsibility extends to entities receiving CPB funds. External oversight to monitor their compliance with CPB funding criteria is a primary responsibility of the Corporation. In addition to its own grant administration policies, CPB is aided in this regard by its Board of Directors and its Office of Inspector General. CPB Board of Directors The CPB Board of Directors is comprised of nine members, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. While the entire Board is charged with oversight, the CPB Audit Committee is the initial vehicle that the Board of Directors uses to discharge its oversight responsibilities under the laws and regulations governing the Corporation. Principal among these is compliance with the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, as amended, and oversight of funds appropriated annually to public broadcasting. These responsibilities extend to oversight of corporate programs, functions and activities established to manage and control the Corporation’s utilization of funds. Office of Inspector General In 1989, the CPB’s independent Office of Inspector General was created for the purpose of improving efficiency, economy and effectiveness of CPB operations and programs, and preventing and detecting possible waste, fraud and abuse. The CPB Board Audit Committee and CPB Management work with the OIG to establish a programs for review of the adequacy of systems of financial management and internal controls to ensure accurate and complete reporting, compliance with applicable rules and regulations, and safeguards over CPB resources. This includes requiring stations to submit to audits and keep their books in compliance with CPB policies (47 U.S.C. § 396(l)(3)). Compliance with Content Oversight Obligations Sections 396(g)(1)(a) and 396(g)(1)(d) of the Act state, “(1) In order to achieve the objectives and to carry out the purposes of this subpart, as set out in subsection (a) of this section, the Corporation is authorized to: (a) facilitate the full development of public telecommunications in which programs of high quality, diversity, creativity, excellence, and innovation, which are obtained from diverse sources, will be made available to public telecommunications entities, with strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature…[and] (d) carry out its purposes and functions and engage in its activities in ways that will most effectively assure the maximum freedom of the public telecommunications entities and systems from interference with, or control of, program content or other activities." Our current activities designed to meet these statutory requirements fall into four general categories: Soliciting Public Comment. In 1993, the CPB Board and management established the Open to the Public initiative in order to encourage viewers and listeners to voice their opinions through: · A toll-free, 24-hour telephone line (1-800-272-2190) · A U.S. post office box (P.O. Box 50880, Washington D.C. 20091) · A dedicated e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) Virtually all public radio and television stations maintain similar audience response services, as do the national organizations, such as PBS, NPR, and PRI, as well as many other program producers and providers. CPB provides links to these organizations through its Web site. Earlier in this testimony, I discussed our plans to strengthen our Open to the Public initiative. Monitoring Public Perceptions. In addition to public comment, CPB considers other impartial indicators, including journalism awards, independent polling data and press reports, to help gauge perceptions of quality, as well as objectivity and balance. PBS and NPR also conduct regular independent surveys and focus group opinion studies, which we review and sometimes participate in. Addressing Concerns. CPB staff meet frequently with producers and station representatives to learn more about projects in development, plans for community dialogue, and special outreach efforts to ensure a variety of perspectives. When controversial programming generates public interest, CPB routinely communicates such comments to the appropriate producer or programmer and seeks further information or clarification. CPB Program Funding. It has been CPB’s long-standing policy to support a wide variety of programming sources and distribution channels, so that local programmers – and viewers and listeners – have a wide number of program choices. Programming content for stations, therefore, comes from PBS, NPR, PRI, APT, many independent sources, and from local sources, including the station. Each local station ultimately decides which programs to carry and when to carry them, and decisions about controversial programs are vested, by law, in individual stations. Program proposals are evaluated on the basis of comparative merit by CPB staff and panels of outside experts, representing diverse interests and perspectives. Balance and objectivity are important criteria for program proposals concerning topics of a controversial nature. Any resulting CPB program contract requires that a recipient’s production meet all applicable standards of journalistic ethics, including issues related to fairness. Since its creation by Congress in 1967, CPB has worked diligently to fulfill its mission of promoting a dynamic, independent and trusted public broadcasting system. I believe that CPB has and continues to meet its obligation to help provide the American public with a range and quality of programming and services unrivaled by any other broadcast service. I hope that this information is of use to the Committee. Please let me know if there is other information that I can provide to assist the Committee as it works towards a reauthorization of CPB.
Mr. Ken Burns
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: It is an honor for me to appear before you today on behalf of PBS. I am grateful that you have given me this opportunity to express my thoughts. Let me say from the outset--as a film producer and as a father of two daughters increasingly concerned about the sometimes dangerous landscape of our television environment--that I am a passionate life-long supporter of public television and its unique role in helping to stitch our exquisite, diverse, and often fragile culture together. Few institutions provide such a direct, grassroots way for our citizens to participate in the shared glories of their common past, in the power of the priceless ideals that have animated our remarkable republic and our national life for more than two hundred years, and in the inspirational life of the mind and the heart that an engagement with the arts always provides. It is my wholehearted belief that anything that threatens this institution weakens our country. It is as simple as that. For more than 25 years I have been producing historical documentary films, celebrating the special messages American history continually directs our way. The subjects of these films range from the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty to the life of the turbulent demagogue Huey Long; from the graceful architecture of the Shakers to the early founders of radio; from the sublime pleasures and unexpected lessons of our national pastime and Jazz to the searing transcendent experience of our Civil War; from Thomas Jefferson and Lewis and Clark to Frank Lloyd Wright, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Mark Twain. I even made a film on the history of this magnificent Capitol building and the much maligned institution that is charged with conducting the people's business. In every instance, I consciously produced these films for national public television broadcast, not the commercial networks or cable. As an educational filmmaker, I am grateful to play even a small part in an underfunded broadcasting entity with one foot tenuously in the marketplace and the other decidedly and proudly out, which, among dozens of fabulously wealthy networks, just happens to produce--on shoestring budgets--the best news and public affairs programming on television, the best science and nature programming on television, the best arts on television, the best children's shows on television, and, some say, the best history on television. When I was working more than 15 years ago on my film about the Statue of Liberty, its history and powerful symbolism, I had the great good fortune to meet and interview Vartan Gregorian, who was then the president of the New York Public Library. After an extremely interesting and passionate interview on the meaning behind the statue for an immigrant like him--from Tabriz, Iran--Vartan took me on a long and fascinating tour of the miles of stacks of the Library. Finally, after galloping down one claustrophobic corridor after another, he stopped and gestured expansively. "This," he said, surveying his library from its guts, "this is the DNA of our civilization." I think he was saying that that library, indeed, all libraries, archives, and historical societies are the DNA of our society, leaving an imprint of excellence and intention for generations to come. It occurs to me this morning, as we consider the rich history of service and education of PBS, that we must certainly include this great institution in that list of the DNA of our civilization. That public television is part of the great genetic legacy of our nation. And that cannot, should not, be denied us or our posterity. PBS has consistently provided, with its modest resources, and over more than three tumultuous decades, quite simply an antidote to the vast wasteland of television programming Newton Minnow so accurately described. We do things differently. We are hardly a "disappearing niche," as some suggest, but a vibrant, galvanic force capable of sustaining this experiment well into our uncertain future. Some critics say that PBS is no longer needed in this multi-channel universe, that our government has no business in television or the arts and humanities, that we must let the marketplace alone determine everything in our cultural life, that a few controversial programs prove the political bias of the public television community. I feel strongly that I must address those assertions. First let me share a few facts that might surprise you: As a result of media consolidation, public stations are frequently the last and only locally owned media operations in their markets. Despite the exponential growth of television options, 84 million people a week watch PBS –more than any cable outlet. It is the number one choice of video curriculum in the classroom and its non-violent, non-commercial children’s programs are the number one choice of parents. Indeed, as commercial television continues in its race to the bottom for ratings, PBS has earned the nation’s trust to deliver programs that both entertain and educate and that do so in a manner that the public consistently rates as balanced and objective. But above and beyond these facts that demonstrate the ways in which PBS is more important than ever in helping to address the public’s needs today, there is a larger argument to be made—one that is rooted in our nation’s history. Since the beginning of this country, our government has been involved in supporting the arts and the diffusion of knowledge, which was deemed as critical to our future as roads and dams and bridges. Early on, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers knew that the pursuit of happiness did not mean a hedonistic search for pleasure in the marketplace of things, but an active involvement of the mind in the higher aspects of human endeavor--namely education, music, the arts, and history—a marketplace of ideas. Congress supported the journey of Lewis and Clark as much to explore the natural, biological, ethnographic, and cultural landscape of our expanding nation as to open up a new trading route to the Pacific. Congress supported numerous geographical, artistic, photographic, and biological expeditions to nearly every corner of the developing West. Congress funded, through the Farm Securities Administration, the work of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange and other great photographers who captured for posterity the terrible human cost of the Depression. At the same time, Congress funded some of the most enduring writing ever produced about this country's people, its monuments, buildings, and back roads in the still much used and admired WPA guides. Some of our greatest symphonic work, our most treasured dramatic plays, and early documentary film classics came from an earlier Congress' support. With Congress' great insight PBS was born and grew to its startlingly effective maturity echoing the same time-honored sense that our Government has an interest in helping to sponsor Communication, Art and Education just as it sponsors Commerce. We are not talking about a 100% sponsorship, a free ride, but a priming of the pump, a way to get the juices flowing, in the spirit of President Reagan's notion of a partnership between the government and the private sector. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant I got for the Civil War series attracted even more funds from General Motors and several private foundations; money that would not have been there had not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting blessed this project with their rigorously earned imprimatur. But there are those who are sure that without public television, the so-called "marketplace" would take care of everything; that what won't survive in the marketplace, doesn't deserve to survive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because we are not just talking about the commerce of a nation. We are not just economic beings, but spiritual and intellectual beings as well, and so we are talking about the creativity of a nation. Now, some forms of creativity thrive in the marketplace and that is a wonderful thing, reflected in our Hollywood movies and our universally popular music. But let me say that the marketplace could not have made and to this day could not make my Civil War series, indeed any of the films I have worked on. That series was shown on public television, outside the marketplace, without commercial interruption, by far the single most important factor for our insuring PBS's continuing existence and for understanding the Civil War series' overwhelming success. All real meaning in our world accrues in duration; that is to say, that which we value the most--our families, our work, the things we build, our art-- has the stamp of our focused attention. Without that attention, we do not learn, we do not remember, we do not care. We are not responsible citizens. Most of the rest of the television environment has ignored this critical truth. For several generations now, TV has disrupted our attention every eight minutes (or less) to sell us five or six different things, then sent us back, our ability to digest all the impressions compromised in the extreme. The programming on PBS in all its splendid variety, offers the rarest treat amidst the outrageous cacophony of our television marketplace--it gives us back our attention and our memory. And by so doing, insures that we have a future. The marketplace will not, indeed cannot, produce the good works of PBS. Just as the marketplace does not come to your house at 3:00am when it is on fire or patrols the dangerous ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. No, the marketplace does not and will not pay for our fire departments or more important our Defense Department, things essential to the safety, defense and well-being of our country. It takes government involvement, eleemosynary institutions, individual altruism, extra-marketplace effort to get these things made and done. I also know, Mr. Chairman, that PBS has nothing to do with the actual defense of our country, I know that—PBS, I believe with every fiber of my being, just helps make our country worth defending. The meat and potatoes of public television reaches out to every corner of the country and touches people in positive ways the Federal Government rarely does. Recent research suggests that PBS is the most trusted national institution in the United States. Indeed, it would be elitist itself to abolish public television, to trust to the marketplace and the "natural aristocracy" that many have promised over the last two hundred years would rise up to protect us all--and hasn't. Those who labor in public television are not unlike those in public service who sacrifice job security, commensurate pay, and who are often misunderstood by a media culture infatuated by their seemingly more glamorous colleagues. With regard to my own films, I have been quite lucky. The Civil War series was public television's highest rated program and has been described as one of the best programs in the history of the medium. But that show, indeed all of my films produced over the last quarter of a century, are only a small part, a tiny fraction, of the legacy of PBS. If public television's mission is severely hampered or curtailed, I suppose I will find work, but not the kind that ensures good television or speaks to the overarching theme of all my films--that which we Americans all hold in common. But more to the point, where will the next generation of filmmakers be trained? By the difficult rigorous proposal process of CPB and PBS or by the “gotcha,” hit and run standards of our commercial brethren? I hope it will be the former. The former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich spoke eloquently and often of an American people poised for the twenty-first century, endowed with a shared heritage of sacrifice and honor and the highest ideals mankind has yet advanced, but also armed with new technologies that would enable us to go forward as one people. I say to all who would listen that we have in public television exactly what he envisions. Unfortunately, some continue to believe that public television is a hot-bed of thinking outside the mainstream. I wonder, though, have they ever been to a PBS station? I doubt it. PBS is the largest media enterprise in the world, reaching into the most remote corners of every state in the Union and enriching the lives of people of all backgrounds. It is also the largest educational institution in the country—because of national and local services that help build school readiness, support schools, provide distance learning, GED prep and essential workplace skills. Local public television stations are essentially conservative institutions, filled with people who share the concerns of most Americans and who reflect the values of their own communities. And Mr. Chairman, I know many people who criticize us as too conservative, too middle of the road, too safe. And in a free society, the rare examples of controversy that may run counter to our accepted cannon, or one group's accepted cannon ought to be seen as a healthy sign that we are a nation tolerant of ideas, confident --as the recent tide of geo-political history has shown--that the best ideas will always prevail. One hundred and sixty-six years ago, in 1838, well before the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln challenged us to consider the real threat to the country, to consider forever the real cost of our inattention: "Whence shall we expect the approach of danger?" he wrote. "Shall some transatlantic giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track in the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher." As usual, Mr. Lincoln speaks to us today with the same force he spoke to his own times. The real threat always and still comes from within this favored land, that the greatest enemy is, as our religious teachings constantly remind us, always ourselves. Today, we have become so dialectically preoccupied, stressing our differences; black/white, left/right, young/old, in/out, good/bad, that we have forgotten to select for the mitigating wisdom that reconciles these disparities into honest difference and collegiality, into a sense of belonging. And we long, indeed ache, for institutions that suggest how we might all be bound back to the whole. PBS is one such institution. The clear answer is tolerance, a discipline sustained in nearly every gesture and breath of the public television I know. We are a nation that loses its way only when we define ourselves by what we are against not what we are for. PBS is that rare forum where more often than not we celebrate what we are for; celebrate, why, against all odds, we Americans still agree to cohere. On the other hand, we in public television must not take ourselves too seriously. Sometimes our greatest strength, our earnestness and seriousness, has metastasized into our greatest weakness. Usually a faithful and true companion, that earnestness and seriousness is sometimes worked to death. And Lord, how we sometimes like to see our mission as the cure. I remember once, after giving an impassioned defense of what we do at PBS, a man came up to me and said simply, "It's not brain surgery, you know." He was right, of course, but sometimes we do effect subtler changes; help in quotidian ways. Not too long ago, on a perfect spring day, I was walking with my oldest daughter through a park in a large American city on the way to her college interview. We were taking our time, enjoying the first warm day of the year, when a man of about thirty, dressed in a three piece suit, approached me. "You're Ken Burns." he asked. I nodded. "I need to talk to you about Baseball," he said under his breath. "Okay." I hesitated. Then, he blurted out: "My brother's daughter died." I took a step backward, stepping in front of my daughter to protect her. "Okay," I said tentatively. I didn't know what else to say. "SIDS." he said. "Crib death. She was only one." "I'm so sorry," I said. "I have daughters." "I didn't know what to do," he said in a halting, utterly sad voice. "My brother and I are very close. Then I thought of your film. I went home to our mother's house, got our baseball mitts, and went to my brother's. I didn't say a word. I handed him his mitt and we went out into the backyard and we played catch wordlessly for an hour. Then I went home....I just wanted to thank you." Maybe it is brain surgery. Mr. Chairman, most of us here, whether we know it or not, are in the business of words. And we hope with some reasonable expectations that those words will last. But alas, especially today, those words often evaporate, their precision blunted by neglect, their insight diminished by the shear volume of their ever increasing brethren, their force diluted by ancient animosities that seem to set each group against the other. The historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has said that we suffer today from "too much pluribus, not enough unum." Few things survive in these cynical days to remind us of the Union from which so many of our personal as well as collective blessings flow. And it is hard not to wonder, in an age when the present moment overshadows all else--our bright past and our unknown future--what finally does endure? What encodes and stores that genetic material of our civilization, passing down to the next generation--the best of us--what we hope will mutate into betterness for our children and our posterity. PBS holds one clear answer. It is the best thing we have in our television environment that reminds us why we agree to cohere as a people. And that is a fundamentally good thing. Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does this great system which honors me by counting me a member one of its own.