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The 2016 Champion of Public Broadcasting Awards

WASHINGTON — February 23, 2016 — The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) presented its 2016 Champion of Public Broadcasting Awards to Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The Champion of Public Broadcasting Award is given to political leaders and other individuals who safeguard the ability of local public television stations to provide education, public safety and civic engagement services to their communities.

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA)

“The Ready To Learn program has helped public television get millions of pre-school children ready to succeed in school and in life,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler, “and no one did more than Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania to ensure the preservation of this program as Congress moved toward passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. He authored an amendment to continue the program and won unanimous support for it in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as it considered the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It’s particularly fitting that Senator Casey represents Pennsylvania, also the home of public television’s iconic Mister Rogers and his friend Daniel Tiger, who symbolize public television’s 40-year commitment to early childhood education and development. 

“Thanks to Senator Casey, public television’s high-quality educational content will continue to be available to America’s youngest citizens, on the air, online and in mobile applications, and on the ground where parents, teachers and caregivers can help kids make the most of this marvelous content. It is our great honor to present the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award to Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who has richly earned it.”

"I am grateful to be presented the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award," Senator Casey said. "As a leader, it is my job to serve, advocate and communicate on behalf of the people of my great state of Pennsylvania as well as continually educate myself on new and growing issues that my constituents may be facing. APTS gives me and other leaders an outlet to speak directly to those we represent to do just that. Working together, we were able to make progress in passing the Every Student Succeeds Act to help ensure that our most valuable resources, our children, are receiving the support and education they deserve.”

Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK)

“Congressman Tom Cole, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education), oversees the House’s funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB),” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler. “Congressman Cole’s extraordinary leadership was instrumental in ensuring that the FY 2016 House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill included $445 million in level funding for CPB – the first time in five years the House has proposed anything but a zero for public broadcasting. In addition, Congressman Cole’s support for public broadcasting during the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations negotiations helped ensure the enactment of level funding for not only CPB but also the Ready To Learn education program that has proven its ability to close the achievement gap between children from low-income families and their more affluent peers. In addition, Chairman Cole helped ensure critical funding for the public broadcasting interconnection system that makes it possible for public television to serve everyone, everywhere, every day, for free, including the Native American nations of Oklahoma. Congressman Cole’s central role in safeguarding these highly cost-effective federal investments is a fine example of a superb lawmaker at work. It is our great honor to present the Champion of Public Broadcasting award to Congressman Tom Cole.”

“Throughout the years, millions of American families have felt the benefits of the diverse programs aired on public television," Congressman Cole said. "Many of us can recall gathering with our loved ones in front of the television for that favorite weekly program or catching one of public television’s outstanding documentaries. Indeed, public television has the ability to bring families closer together because it encourages them to learn together. I am honored to be recognized by the Association of Public Television Stations for my efforts to protect, strengthen and empower local public stations. In the days ahead, I look forward to helping them continue to serve, inform and edify communities in every city and state across the nation.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

“Senator Murkowski has been a steadfast supporter of public broadcasting, including her support of local public television and radio stations in Alaska,” said APTS president and CEO Patrick Butler. “As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Murkowski played a critical role in preserving public television’s Ready To Learn (RTL) program in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – and preserving RTL’s $25.7 million annual appropriation. We are profoundly grateful for her support of public television’s education and public service mission, and for her recognition of the valuable services public broadcasting provides to the people of Alaska. We are honored to present a well-deserved Champion of Public Broadcasting Award to Senator Murkowski.”

"I have long been an advocate for public broadcasting, which is so important throughout Alaska, especially in the rural areas where it often serves as the only source of news and weather," Senator Murkowski said. "I also value the high-quality historical and informative programming that public broadcasting has brought to homes throughout Alaska and the nation for so many years. I am incredibly grateful to be honored with the Champion of Public Broadcasting Award."

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