Public Media Alliance: NPR and APTS form ‘unified’ lobbying effort during NPR’s troubles, February 2011

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Memos to public radio stations’ Authorized Representatives (AReps) from NPR and APTS about the Public Media Alliance, a new combined TV and radio lobbying effort, Feb. 15, 2011

From NPR’s chair and president

Fr: Dave Edwards, NPR Board Chair
Vivian Schiller , NPR President & CEO

As you well know in light of this weekend’s news from the House Appropriations Committee, the elimination of federal funding for public broadcasting is a serious threat to the future of over 900 locally run radio stations and 360 television stations — and to the entire public broadcasting economy. To succeed in the face of this challenge we need to make our case forcefully, and use our limited resources wisely.

Over the past several weeks, NPR and APTS executives and board members have discussed how we might mount an even stronger advocacy effort. We’ve concluded that our interests and those of the 170 million Americans that rely on public broadcasting each month will be best served by joining forces. Toward that end, we have created the Public Media Association (PMA). The PMA is not an entity unto itself, but rather it is the name we will use for this joint initiative to address the threat to federal funding.  .

It is important for us all to remember that members of Congress do not generally distinguish between public radio and public television – from their perspective, they fund public broadcasting. Thus our strategy in this battle must be closely joined. The PMA will be governed by a 10-person Legislative Council comprised of four radio station leaders named by the NPR Board of Directors; four television station leaders named by the APTS Action board; Pat Butler, the President and CEO of APTS, and Vivian Schiller. This Council will set shared priorities, and this new, combined radio and TV leadership group will provide fast, clear guidance that spans and serves both radio and TV.

Pat Butler will head the PMA. He will be in charge of the overall legislative strategy and provide executive leadership for the new, integrated advocacy initiative. Pat recently retired from a distinguished 18-year career at the Washington Post Company; he has extensive experience in the public policy, media and political sectors. (Please read his statement about his new role below).

Mike Riksen, NPR’s Vice President for Policy and Representation, will play a key leadership role in the PMA, reporting to Pat on matters of legislative strategy with respect to federal funding. Mike has successfully represented the interests of public radio to Congress and regulators for nearly a decade. He and his team (which will continue to report to him), will remain NPR employees, and they will continue to work closely with NPR Members and radio stations overall.  The promising advocacy initiatives we have underway now will continue. The NPR and APTS representation (and communications) teams have already been working together for many weeks, and will seamlessly combine our current efforts and new strategies under the PMA banner.

The complementary strengths of the NPR and APTS teams will result in an even more effective effort under the auspices of the combined radio/TV PMA. The NPR Board of Directors and APTS Action Board agree, and both have enthusiastically endorsed this effort. I know many of you will have questions about the future of NPR’s representation role once the current crisis is over and the work of the PMA is done. Questions about what will best serve us in the future are important and complex, and they can’t — and shouldn’t — be sorted out in the midst of what is the biggest challenge to federal funding in our history.  Right now, we must all focus on the fight to preserve our mission and service to America.

Toward that end, we invite you to join us, along with Pat Butler and Mike Riksen for an interconnect on the PMA on Friday, February 18 at 2:00; interconnect details to come!

From APTS’s president

The Public Media Association
Unified, Effective and Agile Advocacy for Public Media
Statement of Patrick Butler

Dear Colleagues,

I am honored that the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) and NPR have asked me to lead the Public Media Association, a joint effort to respond to the current federal funding crisis on behalf of public broadcasting. I am deeply committed to a unified and highly coordinated effort, working with our NPR colleagues and all of our stations to make the strongest possible case on Capitol Hill and with state governments across the country.

I am very much looking forward to directing the combined firepower of the Public Media Association — the four-member APTS legislative team and the five-member NPR legislative team. I’m particularly pleased to have Mike Riksen, NPR’s Vice President for Policy and Representation, as an important member of this team. Mike has represented public radio before Congress, the Administration, and regulatory agencies since 2003 and has extensive background in technology and communications. Both legislative teams bring considerable experience and high regard in their respective fields.

My goal is to lead an effort that will be useful to our stations as you talk with leaders and citizens in your communities about the future of public media in this country, and to effectively communicate the critical role you all play in the debate about taxpayer support of a robust American public media enterprise.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve on your behalf and to work with the Legislative Council that will guide the Public Media Association. We will communicate with the public broadcasting system — radio and television — on a unified basis. We will be releasing a directory of the combined staff and other contact information in the very near future. In the meantime you can contact APTS Action and NPR staff using current email addresses and phone numbers.

You can reach me at (202) 654-4212 or

On behalf of all my colleagues at the new Public Media Association, thank you for this opportunity to be of service to the entire public media community.