If Congress cancels federal funding for PBS, rural areas will be hurt the most, says CEO Paula Kerger


Once again, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger has to justify the 50-year-old institution of public media. Last month, the Trump administration proposed for the third year in a row the elimination of the Corportation for Public Broadcasting, the “quasi-governmental” organization that distributes federal money to more than 300 PBS stations across the country.

“I don’t understand why we’re a political pawn,” Kerger said on the latest episode of Recode Decode. “And it’s frustrating, because I will tell you, Kara, the amount of time and energy that goes into this every year to have to make this case is time that gets pulled away from other things.”

On the new podcast, she explained why eliminating federal funding for PBS would not hurt all stations equally. Some in urban centers like New York and Washington, DC, might be able to get by with the money they get from other sources, including corporate underwriters and individual donations. But the threat is a more “existential” threat for stations in rural areas that “are not going to make it … unless there is some federal support.”

Kerger recalled a story from 13 years ago, early in her tenure running PBS. During a visit to