Legislative update: Emergency COVID-19 Assistance for Public Broadcasting

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

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As part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill that was passed on March 6 and signed into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden, the U.S. Senate included $175 million in COVID-19 emergency assistance for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The law appropriates the funds to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including for fiscal stabilization grants to public telecommunications entities,” as well as to “preserve small and rural stations threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues.”

The funding was applauded by America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), a nonprofit membership organization based in Arlington, VA. “This $175 million in emergency assistance is vital to continuing and expanding these essential services when America needs them most,” said Patrick Butler, APTS president and CEO. “Throughout the pandemic, public television stations, which serve nearly 100 percent of the American people, have provided a learning lifeline to millions of students whose schools were closed and to thousands whose Internet access was limited.”

Butler said the funding will help stations continue to provide remote learning services to millions of students across the country, as well as deliver educational content via data casting to students without internet access. Plus, the funding will help broadcasters continue to provide public safety information from state officials about the COVID-19 pandemic and updates about reopening efforts.

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