Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a non-profit corporation created by an act of the United States Congress, funded by the United States’ federal government to promote public broadcasting. Historically, 15~20% of the aggregate revenues of all public broadcasting stations have been funded from federal sources, principally through the CPB.

The CPB was created on November 7, 1967, when U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. The new organization initially collaborated with the pre-existing National Educational Television network. In 1969, the CPB talked to private groups to start the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In 1970, the CPB formed National Public Radio (NPR), a radio network of public stations.

The CPB provides some funding for PBS and NPR, as well as to other broadcasters that are independent of those organizations, though much more of its funding goes to public television and radio stations that are members of PBS or NPR. In more recent years, the CPB has started funding some Internet-based projects.

Funding of and by the CPB
The CPB’s annual budget is composed almost entirely of an annual appropriation from Congress plus interest on those funds. For fiscal year 2010, its appropriation was US$422 million (including $2 million in interest earned). The distribution of these funds were as follows:
    $21.0 million (a maximum of 5% of the total budget) for CPB administrative costs
    $25.2 million (a maximum of 6% of the total budget) for funds to support the Public Broadcasting Service generally, as opposed to specific stations.
    $281.85 million (66.8% of the total budget) for public television, distributed as:
        $210.26 million as grants to individual public television stations
        $71.59 million for public television programming
    $93.94 million (22.3% of total budget) for public radio, distributed as:
        $65.41 million as grants to individual public radio stations
        $21.74 million as grants for radio programming acquisition
        $6.79 million for public radio programming

The CPB also distributed a separate appropriation for conversion to digital television, which was mandated to occur by June 12, 2009.

Public broadcasting stations are funded by a combination of private donations from members, foundations and corporations (60.4% of 2006 total revenues of all stations), state and local taxes (22.2% of 2006 total revenues), local and national underwriting, and federal funds, principally through the CPB (17.3% of 2006 total revenues).

About 90% of the 2005 budget was distributed to public broadcasters across the country, including both local and national organizations. Stations which receive CPB funds must meet certain requirements, such as to maintain or provide:
    Open meetings
    Open financial records
    Community advisory board
    Equal employment opportunity
    Donor list and political activities

Political composition of the CPB Board
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has six board members who serve six-year terms and are selected by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate.

As of (February 2011), the CPB board was composed of three Republicans and three Democrats. According to the Public Broadcasting Act, the White House cannot appoint persons of the same political party to more than five of the nine CPB board seats.

In 2004 and 2005, there were complaints by people within PBS and NPR that the CPB was starting to push a conservative agenda,while board members counter that they are merely seeking balance. Polls of the PBS and NPR audiences in 2002 and 2003 indicated that few felt that the groups’ news reports contained bias, and those that saw a slant were split as to which side they believed the reports favored. The president of the CPB, Patricia Harrison, is a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee; between 2001–2010, its chair was a Republican.

The charge of a conservative agenda reached a head in 2005. The point man of the controversy, Kenneth Tomlinson, was the chair of the CPB board from September 2003 until September 2005. During his time as Chair, he drew the anger of PBS and NPR supporters by unilaterally commissioning a study of alleged bias of the PBS show, NOW with Bill Moyers, conducted by a conservative colleague, and by appointing two conservatives as CPB Ombudsment. On November 3, 2005, Tomlinson resigned from the board in the face of allegations of scandal. A report of his tenure by the CPB Inspector General, Kenneth Konz, requested by House Democrats, prompted his resignation. On November 15, the report was made public. It found evidence that "the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) former Chairman violated statutory provisions and the Director’s Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators of a new public affairs program during negotiations with PBS and the CPB over creating the show." It also "found evidence that suggests “political tests” were a major criteria used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices".

Objectivity and balance requirements
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 requires that the CPB operate with a "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." It also requires that the CPB regularly review national programming for objectivity and balance, as well as report on "its efforts to address concerns about objectivity and balance."