PBS 2015 draft budget would raise station dues 2.5 percent

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PBS’s fiscal 2015 draft budget contains a recommendation for a 2.5 percent increase in dues paid by member stations.

The PBS Board, meeting Friday morning at headquarters in Arlington, Va., voted to send the proposed budget to member stations for comment.

Stations did not see an increase in membership assessments this year due to an anticipated FY13 windfall of $22 million generated in part by higher income from PBS Distribution deals for Masterpiece megahit Downton Abbey. By the end of FY13, PBS officially closed its books with an extra $24.5 million.

PBS management is proposing the 2.5 percent dues increase for FY15, which would generate about $4.6 million.

In other news, the board unanimously approved a request from WTVI in Charlotte, N.C., to schedule PBS programs at times other than those specified by the network. WTVI’s coverage overlaps with Chapel Hill’s UNC-TV and SCETV in Columbia, S.C.

The waiver allows WTVI to shift programs on its schedule to provide local viewers with choices among stations’ programs. “For us to be able to offer alternative time slots brings a broader audience to the programs,” WTVI General Manager Amy Burkett told Current. “That benefits all the stations in the market.”