America's Public Television Stations
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In 1979, America’s public television stations created the America's Public Television Stations (APTS) to represent their interests.
America's Public Television Stations (APTS) is a non-profit membership organization established in 1979. The mission of APTS is to conduct – in concert with member stations – advocacy, planning, research, communications and other activities that foster a strong and financially sound public television system providing essential public services to all Americans. Its affiliate APTS Action, Inc. promotes the legislative interests of noncommercial television stations at the national level through direct advocacy and through grasstops and grassroots campaigns designed to secure and enhance bipartisan congressional support.
Mission and Goals
The mission of APTS is to lead the continued growth and development of strong and financially sound noncommercial broadcasting, dedicated to public service missions in education, public safety and well-informed citizenship.
Local public television stations:
- Provide educational resources and tools, including through PBS LearningMedia, an extraordinary educational initiative that brings the power of 35,000 interactive, standards-based, curriculum-aligned digital learning objects (adapted from public television programming and other sources including the Library of Congress, National Archives, NASA and National Science Foundation) to K-12 classrooms and tens of thousands of home schools across the country.
- Operate virtual high schools all over America, bringing high-quality instruction in the most specialized fields to the most remote locations in our country.
- Manage GED programs that help second-chance students and adult learners get their high-school equivalency certificates and prepare themselves for meaningful work in a competitive marketplace.
- Create job training programs in various localities (Vegas PBS is the largest job trainer in Nevada), with a special emphasis on retraining military veterans.
- Play a central role in public safety and emergency preparedness, as the platform of the presidential alert system in times of national crisis and as the backbone of public safety communications in a growing number of States.
- Are indispensably involved in the civic life of our country, serving as the “C-SPAN” of many State governments, as producers and reporters of the most in-depth news and the most comprehensive and civil public affairs programming in America, as curators and preservers of the history and culture of our communities and our states, as by far the most frequent hosts of political debates, and as the new community centers for civic engagement and collective impact.
The major initiatives of APTS include:
- Representing America’s 170 public television licensees in federal legislative, regulatory and related matters in Washington, DC.
- Convening the Public Media Summit, largest annual gathering of public broadcasting general managers and community leaders, representing both television and radio, who come together to explore all the issues vital to the future and mission of public service media. The Summit features presentations and speakers on the most important issues facing public service media today and tomorrow. The 2014 Public Media Summit included speakers such as Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Representative Don Young (R-AK), Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), filmmaker Ken Burns and all five current FCC Commissioners.
- Maintaining public funding for public television and fostering bipartisan support for its public service missions: education, public safety and well-informed citizenship. This advocacy is accomplished through well-coordinated grassroots, “grasstops” and Washington-based representation.
- Managing industry coalitions and task forces on spectrum policy, broadcast infrastructure, education, and the future of media.
- Co-managing with NPR Protect My Public Media, a grassroots advocacy campaign to support federal funding for local public television and radio stations.
- Managing the APTS Leadership Council, composed of community leaders in all 50 States serving as ambassadors of public broadcasting.
- Representing local public television stations’ interests with the Federal Communications Commission, including the FCC’s spectrum auction proceeding and other regulatory matters.
- Working with the US Department of Education, US Department of Homeland Security and other federal departments and agencies that share the public service missions of public television.
- Building strategic partnerships with national organizations (National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and others) that share our public service missions.
- Maintaining a robust APTS website and social media platforms with information on public television for local stations, lawmakers, journalists and the general public.
- Co-managing with Greater Public the Grant Center, public broadcasting’s premier source for grant seekers, providing a one-stop shop for funding opportunities tailored specifically for public broadcasting stations. In just over three years, the Grant Center, operating under grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has helped to secure more than $70 million in federal and foundation grants for APTS members and their community partners.
- Contributing to the PBS Station Management Center, providing station leadership with examples of best practices in the public television industry.
- Operating an Endorsed Business Solutions program providing APTS members with discounted services in credit card processing, energy costs and business insurance.
- Coordinating with PBS, CPB, NPR and licensee affinity groups on matters of public policy and industry practice.
- Working with the National Association of Broadcasters on industry training and other initiatives.
- The New York Times published a piece by journalist Elizabeth Jensen entitled, “In Reversal Since the Recession, Some States Give More Money to Public Television.” This article discusses the increase in state funding for public television stations, as well as the conversion of Indiana Governor Mike Pence from a critic to a champion of public broadcasting.
- Association Now published an article entitled, "Persistence Pays Off for Public Broadcasters," discussing the turning of the tide in funding for public television.
- The New York Times published an article entitled, “TV Stations in Los Angeles to Share a Channel to Free Up Spectrum,” about the channel sharing pilot with public television station KCLS and commercial station KJLA.
History of APTS
In 1978, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Board of Directors commissioned the public television “system planning project” to consider the most appropriate organization of national service functions for public television for the 1980s. Among the concerns was the feeling of many that insulation of programing from representational responsibilities, and the more effective conduct of both the operating functions of the national program service and the system planning and representation functions for the licensees, would be better served if the two functions were not the responsibility of a single organization and management.
The planning project concurred with this view, and after a process of consultation with the PBS membership and other agencies, concluded with this recommendation to the PBS Board. At the PBS Annual Meeting in Los Angeles in June 1979, the membership voted unanimously to endorse the establishment of a new “center for public television planning and representation” separate from PBS, and the reorganization of PBS to provide multiple program services. On November 1, 1979, Articles of Incorporation for the Association for Public Broadcasting were filed in the District of Columbia. On November 27, the PBS Board reviewed the work of its Committee and endorsed the formation of the Association. The Association’s Interim Board of Trustees, at its organizational meeting the same day, adopted By-Laws for the new organization.
In December and January, the great majority of the public television licensees accepted the Board’s invitation to become Members of the Association, and voted overwhelmingly to approve the By-Laws. The Association began operations on January 1, 1980, with an interim staff and with transitional financial support and staff assistance provided by PBS. The Association’s first full president, Dr. David Carley of Madison, Wisconsin, began in mid-May, and at that time, more than 90 percent of the station licensees had elected to become Members of the Association, and had designated more than 300 lay and professional representatives to serve as charter members of its Board of Delegates. In nationwide mail balloting, the Delegates elected Trustees to oversee the management of the Association’s affairs, and the Trustees called the First Annual Meeting of the Board of Delegates for June 2, 1980, in Washington, D.C.
Patrick Butler, President and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Butler joined APTS on January 1, 2011, after 20 years at The Washington Post Company, where he was Senior Vice President with responsibilities for public policy, new business development, television production, the conference business, community service and special corporate projects.
During his service with The Post Company, Mr. Butler was Chairman of PCS Action, a consortium of companies that secured the licensing and launch of the wireless digital industry of personal communications services. As President of Newsweek Productions, he supervised production of more than 200 hours of non-fiction programming, including “Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History,” a PBS retrospective on the Watergate scandal, that won the Emmy Award for Best Documentary of 2003.
Mr. Butler earlier served as Washington Vice President of Times Mirror, the corporate parent of the Los Angeles Times, and was a Founder of the Times Mirror Center for The People & The Press, which now operates as the Pew Research Center. Mr. Butler also served as Government Relations Vice President for RCA Corporation and as Director of Corporate Public Relations for Bristol-Myers Company. He was Founder and President of Patrick Butler & Company, a communications consulting firm whose clients included leaders of government and business, including former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and actor Cary Grant.
In government service, Mr. Butler was Special Assistant to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker, Jr. (R–TN), Policy Director of Baker for President and consultant to the White House Chief of Staff during Baker’s service with President Reagan. He was also a speechwriter and associate editor of the White House Editorial Office for President Gerald R. Ford. Mr. Butler was Chairman of the impeachment task force for U.S. Representative Lawrence J. Hogan (R–MD), a member of the House Judiciary Committee during its consideration of articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974.
Mr. Butler was appointed by President Reagan and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the National Council on the Humanities, where he served as Chairman of the public programs committee for the National Endowment for the Humanities under Chairman Lynne V. Cheney. During his tenure, Mr. Butler recommended funding Ken Burns’ public television series The Civil War.
Mr. Butler is Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of American University, Vice-Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for the National Archives, Chairman of the Corporate Advisory Board of SOME (So Others Might Eat) and Chairman Emeritus of the Maryland Public Television Foundation. He is a member of the Boards of America's Public Television Stations (ex officio), the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, the DC College Access Program, the Children’s Charities Foundation and the Better Angels Society supporting the work of Ken Burns.