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Posted Mar 17, 2017

Federal Funding for Public Broadcasting

In April of 1955, 62 years ago, the eyes of the Nation looked toward Alabama when the Alabama Educational Television Commission’s interconnected stations became America's first public broadcasting network—the network that opened the doors of opportunity for every child in this state. 

For 62 years, Rich schools, Poor schools, Urban schools, Rural schools, Public schools, Private schools, and all Homes in between have been engaged, enlightened and educated by Alabama Public Television's educational services that are free and commercial free. 

In 1967, 50 years ago, the Public Broadcasting Act established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  Thanks to CPB and its support, Alabama Public Television has stayed true to its primary mission to educate and inspire through its programming.  Today, through the continued support of CPB, APT supports three pillars of service: Education, Public Safety, and Civic Leadership. In the context of the federal budget, funding for public broadcasting is an extremely small amount, representing only .01 percent of total expenditures; however, this investment is very important to Alabama Public Television.

There is a good chance that you and most of the people you know, their children, and their grandchildren are members of the “APT Alumni.”  As a member of the “Alumni” you have learned about Galileo Galilei's discoveries made possible by his use of mathematics to improve telescopes.  Telescopes that pointed to the stars where Wernher von Braun's Huntsville-made rocket ships took Americans to the moon.

APT Alumni have learned about America's founding fathers who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to create this great nation and about Alabama’s Tuskegee Airmen who fought to preserve it. In addition, APT Alumni discovered Alabama's vast natural wonders, discovered Alabama's world class industries, discovered Alabama's rich history and traditions, and, thanks to Capitol Journal, discovered how our state government works. And along the way, APT Alumni from pre-K to Ph.D. have discovered their own creativity as they learned to appreciate Shakespeare, Gershwin, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, the Swampers of Muscle Shoals and so many more artists, while at the same time they were learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

I'm proud to say that 62 years later, the APT team comes to work every day energized, dedicated, and focused on serving pre-K students through adult learners, parents, teachers, and childcare providers, because APT's public servants realize that the parents of the children in Alabama count on APT to  provide the high quality on-air, on-line, and in-person educational programming and classroom tools that make APT and PBS the most trusted names in programming for Alabama’s children. APT encourages parents to talk and read to their children from the moment they are born. Then, when the child is ready for television or on-line activities, APT is there with proven programming that is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the right kind of screen time for parents to watch with their children. For many of these children, APT provides the only preschool education they receive during this critical learning period.

The APT team believes the nationally recognized and award-winning work they do improves the lives of Alabama citizens, enhances our state’s international image, makes Alabama more competitive in the global economy, and provides true public safety by serving as the backbone of the state’s Emergency Alert, Amber Alert, and WARN systems. Just last year, Alabama Public Television was honored with two major national awards:  the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary in the Nation for the biography of Jeremiah Denton, and the National Association of Broadcasters Service to America Award for Service to Children.

Perhaps the most important public service we provide is to simply teach young people that life is about continuous learning, about not being afraid to raise their hands to ask a question, to volunteer to help, or to express their opinions about what they believe.

Alabama Public Television has enjoyed bi-partisan support in the U.S. Congress and will be more than happy to work with President Trump’s administration to help them understand the important services we provide for our state and beyond. We will be happy to show the administration how Alabama Public Television is playing an important role in homeland security and how public broadcasters across the nation are poised to provide even more services that will help keep our nation safe. The funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting represents the ideal public/private partnership where every federal dollar is multiplied many times by state and donated support dollars. The CPB funding provided to Alabama Public Television is extremely important to APT’s ability to serve the citizens of Alabama, and the American people on both sides of the political aisle believe in federal funding for public broadcasting. One recent poll by the respected team of Hart Research (Democrat) and American Viewpoint (Republican) shows that more than 7 in 10 voters say public television is a good or excellent value for their tax dollars, on par with investments in highways, roads and bridges. Eighty-three percent of all voters would tell Congress to look for cuts somewhere other than public television.  

Alabama’s current Legislature has maintained fidelity with the visionaries that sat in their seats during the last 62 years; visionaries that believed in the APT idea; visionaries that sustained and nurtured it; and visionaries that created a tremendous contribution to the human spirit! For the past two years in a row the Alabama Legislature has passed joint house and senate resolutions of honor for APT and Governor Bentley has issued a proclamation of praise for APT’s service to our state.

To learn more about the many services provided by Alabama Public Television visit www.aptv.org, where you will find more than 120,000 learning tools for teachers and parents. From WILD KRATTS to NATURE to NOVA, students and learners of all ages are exposed to the wonders of our world and the thrills of discovery and invention that can open doors to careers in high-demand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.  

Alabama Public Television is an idea. An idea that has lit the imaginations of our citizens and the nation for 62 years. An idea that will continue to inspire young and old alike to reach for the stars! An idea that needs the support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to continue. If you would like to make your voice heard about the value of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting you can visit www.protectmypublicmedia.org.   

Roy Clem
Executive Director
Alabama Public Television

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Roy Clem, Executive Director, Alabama Public Television

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