500 Education, Training, Employment & Social Services:Privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority and were calculated by using the FY 2014 enacted spending levels as found in page 3 of CPB, “Corporation for Public Broadcasting Appropriation Request and Justification: FY 2014 and FY 2016,” April 2013. While most other spending items are assumed to grow at the same rate as discretionary spending as specified in the CBO’s most recent August 2014 baseline, we assume that the spending on the CPB would hold steady at $445 million per year because spending on CPB has not grown in recent years (it was $444 million in 2012 and will be $445 million for 2014–2016).


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). This proposal saves $445 million annually, and $4.5 billion over 10 years.


Privatize public broadcasting. Save taxpayers $4.5 billion.

In 2012, total spending on public broadcasting, derived from all federal and non-federal sources, amounted to $2.8 billion. In that year, 82 percent of this spending came from non-federal sources. The CPB made up only $444 million, or 16 percent, of this amount. Without federal funding for the CPB, services such as the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), which receive funding from the CPB, could make up the lost money by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members.

The goal of CPB is also increasingly met by other media sources. The range of television options has increased dramatically since the CPB was created in 1967. At that time, households faced very limited television options. In 2013, the average household had 189 channels.

Privatize public broadcasting. Save taxpayers $4.5 billion.

Contributing Expert

Brad Watson served as Senior Policy Services Advisor in Policy Promotion during the production of The Budget Book. He has since left The Heritage Foundation for a new position

Brad WatsonSenior Policy Services Advisor

Additional Reading