This year marked the 5th year I have attended America’s Public Television Stations Summit (APTS*) in Washington DC, held at the Fairmont Hotel in Georgetown. It is always a "must attend” event for me because I get the privilege to sit with PBS station leaders from across the country to hear the latest on federal funding, the political climate, regulatory policy, and strategic planning for the future.
On February 2nd of this year, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal, which again calls for the elimination of CPB funding. This was disappointing but not unexpected news that once again the elimination of federal funding for public media was recommended. Our work was cut out for us.
At APTS Summit, I am always informed and inspired by colleagues who have found ways to serve their communities better. I partnered up with Shirley Sneve, Executive Director of Vision Maker Media for our meetings on Capitol Hill, together we represented the National Minority Consortia (NMC). The NMC serves as an important component of American public television, by nurturing the next generation of diverse media makers and content creators.
Some important aspects of the APTS gathering is it prepares us to make a case in support of public media funding. It reminds us to celebrate our impact on American society and unites us for national public broadcasting advocacy day on Capitol Hill.
I appreciate the opportunity to meet with lawmakers face to face and I will continue to make this crusade to the hill every year to support the case that PBS is not just another television channel. While visiting the Senators and Representatives offices, I took the opportunity to update them on the important work accomplished by Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) and the National Minority Consortia (NMC) and how we are still giving voice to the nation’s diverse cultures and communities.
We were armed by APTS with facts that helped us advocate for continued support. Important information such as:
· The American people overwhelmingly support federal funding for public broadcasting (including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents) and consistently rank public television the second-best investment government makes, after national defense.
· Public broadcasters reach nearly 99% of the U.S. population with free over-the-air service, no matter how rural or remote.
· Early childhood educational television programming, the hallmark of public television, has helped 90 million kids get ready to learn in school and succeed in life –and helped close the achievement gap between rich and poor kids.
· Public television’s, universally accessible, proven early childhood broadcast programming might be the only preschool education that reaches the 54% of U.S. children that do not attend a formal preschool.
· Public television stations are the backbone of the Emergency Alert System through which the President of the United States can alert the American people to national emergencies.
· As some of the last locally-operated and locally-controlled media in many communities, public broadcasters might provide the only local alert and warning services in their communities.
The list goes on, but you get the point of how important public media is to the American people. To assist in advocating for CPB, PBS and the NMC please join Protect My Public Media and write your members of Congress in support of public television. Your voice will make an impact.
* America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) is a nonprofit membership organization ensuring a strong and financially sound public television system that provides essential public services in education, public safety and civic leadership to the American people.
Photo: Shirley Sneve, Executive Director, Vision Maker Media, Krystal Ka’ai, Executive Director, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) from Rep. Judy Chu's Office, Leanne Ferrer, Executive Director at Pacific Islanders in Communications