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Corporation for Public Broadcasting

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Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Company typePrivate, non-profit[1][2]
FoundedNovember 7, 1967; 56 years ago (1967-11-07)
Area served
United States
Key people
Patricia Harrison (president & CEO)
Number of employees

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is an American publicly funded non-profit corporation, created in 1967 to promote and help support public broadcasting.[3] The corporation's mission is to ensure universal access to non-commercial, high-quality content and telecommunications services. It does so by distributing more than 70 percent of its funding to more than 1,400 locally owned public radio and television stations.[4]


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting 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 National Educational Television network—which would be replaced by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Ward Chamberlin Jr. was the first operating officer.[5] On March 27, 1968, it was registered as a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia.[6] In 1969, the CPB talked to private groups to start PBS, an entity intended by the CPB to circumvent controversies engendered by certain NET public affairs programs that aired in the late 1960s and engendered opposition by politically conservative public figures, potentially threatening the medium's future viability.[7]

On February 26, 1970, the CPB formed National Public Radio (NPR), a network of public-radio stations that began operating the following year. Unlike PBS, NPR produces and distributes programming.[6] On May 31, 2002, the CPB, through special appropriation funding, helped public television stations making the transition to digital broadcasting; this was complete by 2009.[6]

Funding of and by the corporation[edit]

The CPB's annual budget is composed almost entirely of an annual appropriation from Congress plus interest on those funds. CPB has claimed that 95% of its appropriation goes directly to content development, community services, and other local station and system needs.[4]

For fiscal year 2014, its appropriation was US$445.5 million, including $500,000 in interest earned. The distribution of these funds was as follows:[8]

  • $222.78M for direct grants to local public television stations;
  • $74.63M for television programming grants;
  • $69.31M for direct grants to local public radio stations;
  • $26.67M for PBS support;
  • $22.84M for grants for radio programming and national program production and acquisition;
  • $22.25M for CPB administrative costs;
  • $7.00M for the Radio Program Fund.

Public broadcasting stations are funded by a combination of private donations from listeners and viewers, foundations and corporations. Funding for public television comes in roughly equal parts from government (at all levels) and the private sector.[9]

Stations that receive CPB funds must meet certain requirements,[10] such as the maintenance or provision of open meetings, open financial records, a community advisory board, equal employment opportunity, and lists of donors and political activities.

Efforts to defund CPB in the US Congress[edit]

The CPB has had its congressional funding threatened a number of times, mostly by Republicans who think PBS had a left-wing bias. President Nixon was well known for his dislike of PBS and the CPB and wanted to kill the congressional funding for it.[11] In July 2023, the appropriations bill for FY 2024 included zero money for CPB when it passed out of the US House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies[12][13] However, the corresponding bill considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee plans to continue funding for the CPB, though at 7 percent less than what President Biden requested.[14]

Board composition[edit]

The CPB is governed by a nine-member board of directors selected by the president of the United States and confirmed by the Senate; they serve six-year terms, and are allowed to continue serving until the end of the calendar year that their term ends or until their successor is seated on the board.[15] As of December 2022, the board has nine members, with Laura Ross as the chair.[16][17] Under the terms of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, the president cannot appoint persons of the same political party to more than five of the nine CPB board seats.[15]

CPB Board of Directors
Name Title Appointed by (year of confirmation) Party Term expires
Laura G. Ross Chair Donald Trump (2018), Joe Biden (2022) Democratic January 31, 2028
Rubydee Calvert Vice Chair Donald Trump (2018), Joe Biden (2022) January 31, 2028
Bruce Ramer Member George W. Bush (2008), Barack Obama (2013), Donald Trump (2019) Republican January 31, 2024
Elizabeth Sembler Member George W. Bush (2008), Barack Obama (2014), Joe Biden (2022) Republican January 31, 2026
Miriam Hellreich Member Donald Trump (2019) Republican January 31, 2024
Tom Rothman Member Joe Biden (2022) Democratic January 31, 2026
Kathy Im Member Joe Biden (2022) January 31, 2024
Diane Kaplan Member Joe Biden (2022) January 31, 2026
1 seat vacant

The Board of Directors governs CPB, sets policy, and establishes programming priorities. The Board appoints the president and chief executive officer, who then names the other corporate officers.

Political concerns[edit]

In 2004 and 2005, people from PBS and NPR complained that the CPB was starting to push a conservative agenda.[18][19] Board members replied that they were merely seeking balance.

The charge of a conservative agenda came to a head in 2005. Kenneth Tomlinson, chair of the CPB board from September 2003 until September 2005, angered PBS and NPR supporters by unilaterally commissioning a conservative colleague to conduct a study of alleged bias in the PBS show NOW with Bill Moyers, and by appointing two conservatives as CPB Ombudsmen.[20] On November 3, 2005, Tomlinson resigned from the board, prompted by a report of his tenure by the CPB Inspector General, Kenneth Konz, requested by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The report was made public on November 15. It states:

We 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 the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the CPB over creating the show. Our review also found evidence that suggests "political tests" were a major criteria [sic] used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices.[21]

Objectivity and balance requirements[edit]

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 requires the CPB to operate with a "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature".[15] It also requires it to regularly review national programming for objectivity and balance, and to report on "its efforts to address concerns about objectivity and balance".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McLoughlin, Glenn J.; Gomez, Lena A. (May 3, 2017). The Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Federal Funding and Issues (PDF) (Report). Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 5, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "About CPB". www.cpb.org. September 22, 2014. Archived from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  3. ^ 47 U.S.C. § 396
  4. ^ a b "CPB Financial Information". Archived from the original (web) on November 18, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  5. ^ "Statement from Paula Kerger, President & CEO, PBS on Ward Chamberlin Jr". PBS. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "PBS Timeline". PBS. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  7. ^ "Thematic Window: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting". PBS. Archived from the original on August 11, 2009. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
  8. ^ cemah (January 15, 2015). "CPB Operating Budget". www.cpb.org. Archived from the original on December 29, 2017. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "CPB 2013 Annual Report". www.cpb.org. Archived from the original on February 12, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  10. ^ ernestosilva (October 14, 2015). "Communications Act Compliance". www.cpb.org. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "Corporation for Public Broadcasting History". Lendio. 1996. ISSN 1557-0126. Wikidata Q122259942.
  12. ^ Julian Wyllie (July 14, 2023). "House subcommittee recommends zeroing out CPB funding for FY26". Current. Wikidata Q122260182.
  13. ^ David Lee (July 21, 2023), Proposed House Appropriations bill eliminates federal funding for public media, Wikidata Q122260308
  14. ^ George Winslow (July 27, 2023). "APTS, CPB Commend Senate Funding Recommendations for Public Broadcasting". TV Technology. ISSN 0887-1701. Wikidata Q122260508.
  15. ^ a b c "Public Broadcast Act of 1967 Subpart D — Corporation for Public Broadcasting". cpb.org. November 7, 1967. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  16. ^ "Board of Directors". www.cpb.org. February 12, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2022.
  17. ^ "Nominations for Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 117th Congress". Congress.gov. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  18. ^ NPR's On the Media interview with Tomlinson, May 6, 2005 Archived May 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ NPR's On the Media follow-up, July 15, 2005 Archived October 1, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ "CPB Memos Indicate Level of Monitoring". NPR.org. June 30, 2005. Archived from the original on June 24, 2015. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  21. ^ Corporation For Public Broadcasting, Office of Inspector General: Review of Alleged Actions Violating The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, as Amended, Report No. EPB503-602, November 2006 Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine, page i

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