Senate approves extra funding for Md. Public TV if Trump cuts aid

By Daniel Menefee

For Maryland  Reporter

Starting next year live C-Span style deliberations of the Maryland House and Senate could be televised and live streamed during the last two weeks of each session, under a provision in a bill to support Maryland Public Television should Congress cut funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as President Trump has proposed.

The bill, SB1034, cleared the Senate 47-0 on Thursday and now heads to the House of Delegates for a vote.

The measure would mandate the administration fill any shortfalls in grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and provide additional state funds when general fund revenues grow.

The bill also provides for the administration to include up to $500,000 annually to televise and live stream deliberations of each chamber during the last two weeks of each session, not a mandate under the bill but merely expresses “the intent of the General Assembly” to be more transparent.

State expenditures total $14.5 million through fiscal 2022.

Larry Unger, president and CEO of Maryland Public Television, told the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee last week that potential cuts in annual grants from CPB are a serious threat to MPT’s future.

“As you are aware from recent news reports there has been conversation on the national level about defunding CPB,” Unger said at the bill’s hearing on March 8. “The loss of CPB’s community service grant to Maryland Public Television would be crippling.”

“The bill ensures that Marylanders will not lose their MPT service no matter what happens in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Before passage in the Senate, Sen. Justin Ready, R-Carroll, tried to postpone a final vote with a motion to bring the bill back to floor debate with an amendment to broadcast floor deliberations during the entire 90-day session.

The motion failed 32-15.

The bill sponsor, Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery, and Budget and Tax Chair Ed Kasemeyer both said there was not enough money in the budget to broadcast an entire session. King said the additional coverage would cost $2 million.

“Were in the process of trying to get a budget wrapped up,” King said. “There just isn’t money to put that in the budget.”

Ready’s amendment mirrored parts of The Legislative Transparency Act of 2017 offered by Gov. Larry Hogan at the start of the session.

The governor’s proposal and King’s bill are fundamentally different. Hogan’s bill would provide live streaming and archiving of legislative sessions over the Internet using low-definition equipment similar to what is currently used to stream Senate and House committee hearings.

This would be far less expensive and more comprehensive than a broadcast television production.

Currently only audio streaming is available during the session.

About The Author

Dan Menefee

Daniel is a Reporter, If you have additional questions or comments contact Daniel at:


  1. Kurt Kolb

    MPT receives taxpayer dollars and yet competes in the private sector. I’ve lost business and customers to them. If they’re that good let them compete with us private sector businesses without the help of taxpayer money:

  2. Dale McNamee

    PBS, NPR, and “Maryland Pubic TV” are doing quite well between the corporate underwriters and the “plead-a-thons”…

    Sesame Street gets $ millions in royalties from sales of Sesame Street character figures, dolls, etc. sold at stores…

    Let’s do a forensic audit of them !

    They don’t need Maryland taxpayers’ money !

    • Karl Pfrommer


      • Karl Pfrommer

        “The MPT Foundation, Inc. is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1981 to encourage increased funding for MPT and to receive donations and grants on MPT’s behalf. The Foundation also safeguards MPT’s endowment funds in an effort to insulate MPT from economic hard times.”

        [This private foundation is not required to be audited by Maryland. Therefore, only MPT executives, not the governor nor the legislature, have access to MPT Foundation finances and records.]

        “The MPT Foundation is governed by an independent board of directors composed of community leaders who are elected to staggered three-year terms. Directors serve strictly on a voluntary basis.”

  3. higgy01

    Those idiot legislative so-called leaders (the two stooges, the third one tried to run for pres.) just love to find new and different ways to waste our hard earned tax dollars. Like renewable energy, wind and solar, public broadcasting should be made to stand on their own two feet. Subsidizing these useless items is asinine and a definite waste.

Support Our Work!

We depend on your support. A generous gift in any amount helps us continue to bring you this service.