Of all the cuts proposed in President Trump’s new budget, the proposal to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is perhaps most poorly understood.
Because the CPB is an umbrella agency involved with PBS and NPR, any time the government considers cuts to the agency, it’s usually interpreted as the government defunding Sesame Street (which airs in first run on HBO now, before being rerun on PBS) or some other PBS Kids production. But the majority of PBS programming is produced by outside entities — member stations, another country’s broadcasters, or independent production companies (like Sesame Workshop) — and those outside entities usually secure their funding via means other than the government.
It’s true that just over 23 percent of the CPB’s budget (nearly entirely derived from the federal government) goes toward the development and acquisition of television and radio programming. And, yes, losing that stipend will hurt PBS and NPR on some level — though the difference will probably be covered by private funding, whether thanks to corporations, grant foundations, or the famous “viewers like you.”
But most of the federal government’s dollars to CPB (just over 65 percent) go…