Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: April 4, 2011

In a CNN poll of American adults released Friday, the median guess on what percentage of the federal budget goes to public broadcasting was 5%. With a $3.55 trillion budget last year, that would put funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) at approximately $178 billion. You would think, given the attention by Congress to the issue of federal funding of public broadcasting, that it would account for at least 5% of the federal budget, right? Why else spend so much time and effort on cutting these funds?

Actually, CPB received about $420 million last year from the federal government, making it roughly one one-hundredth of one percent, of the overall budget. What is more amazing from this poll was that 20% of respondents thought CPB funding made up over 10% of the entire budget and 5% said it made up at least half.

Despite confusion about the numbers, the CNN poll found that only 16% of Americans believed federal support for public broadcasting should be eliminated completely, while 53% felt it should either stay the same or be increased.