Public Media

The public media tent includes news shows on NPR and PBS, quality kids' programming like Sesame Street, public access TV channels, community radio stations and nonprofit journalism outlets. We rely on public media to inform us, educate our children, entertain us, broaden our cultural horizons, show us local government in action, and help us participate in our communities.

As commercial media institutions crumble, laying off thousands of journalists and gutting newsrooms, they fail to report in depth on the most vital stories of our time. Public broadcasters and community media outlets are not just an alternative to the mainstream; they are essential public institutions in our democracy.

The United States spends a tiny amount — $1.50 per capita — on public media funding. Indeed, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is among the lowest-funded public media systems in the world. Canada spends about $22 per capita; England comes in at around $80; and Denmark and Finland both spend more than $100 per capita.

But while we need noncommercial media in the U.S. more than ever, this vital service is facing new threats. Policymakers seeking to score political points are launching renewed attacks on public and community media.

We face a choice: We can accept a mediocre status quo and maintain an under-funded public media system that is vulnerable to constantly changing political winds, or we can aspire to a public media system that makes use of all technologies available to inspire, educate and inform.

Free Press is partnering with forward-thinking leaders across the public media community, independent media makers and everyday people to develop effective policies that will support public media over the long haul.

Blog Posts

  • I Have to Keep Resisting. There's No Other Choice.

    February 10, 2017
    So many people are out there fighting back, daily, and harder than I have been. It's those stories that lift me up when I start to feel like the resistance is futile.
  • 100 Days of Disruption

    February 3, 2017
    Donald Trump’s first two weeks in the White House put people's safety, freedoms and rights under siege like never before. But our 100 Days of Disruption Campaign is putting the president and his collaborators on notice.
  • Don't Let Trump Kill Public Media

    January 20, 2017
    The Trump administration is pushing a plan to axe funding to hundreds of local NPR and PBS stations around the country. After coming out of an election where fake news was rampant and cable-news networks refused to call out racism, the last thing we need is an attack on public broadcasting.
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  • Future of Public Media

    Free Press is working to create policies that expand funding for public media and make it more digital and diverse. 

  • Community TV

    Public access, educational and governmental television, or PEG stations, are local TV channels that provide programming as diverse as the communities they’re based in. Public access TV plays a vital role in forging community identity. Offerings range from local music videos to city council meetings to community sporting events, and a whole lot in between.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good