A group representing public television stations honored U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand last week.
America's Public Television Stations presented its Champion of Public Broadcasting Award to Gillibrand, D-N.Y., at its Public Media Summit Wednesday. According to a news release, the award is given to leaders who "safeguard the ability of local public television stations to provide education, public safety and civic leadership services to their communities."
Patrick Butler, president and CEO of America's Public Television Stations, recalled when his organization received a call from Gillibrand's office seven years ago informing them that she was circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter in support of federal funding for public broadcasting.
That letter started an annual campaign spearheaded by Gillibrand to support public broadcasting.
"When our funding has been threatened, Senator Gillibrand has been among the first to come to our defense," Butler said.
There are 170 licensees operating more than 350 public television stations across the country, according to America's Public Television Stations. These TV stations serve more than 98 percent of Americans.
Federal funding to support public radio and television systems has been targeted by Republicans in recent years. President Donald Trump's proposed 2019 budget would eliminate federal funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, most notably National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.
Trump's push to eliminate funding for public broadcasting has garnered bipartisan opposition. Some Republicans have joined with Democrats to speak out against the proposed cuts.
"PBS helps educate and inspire children and adults alike, no matter where they live or how much money their families have, and I am proud to fight for public broadcasting funding in the Senate," Gillibrand said. "It's clear that we need the educational and news programming available on public broadcasting today more than ever before."