PBS drops out of PMDMC, will offer development tracks at its meetings

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PBS is ending its participation in Greater Public’s annual development conference.

PBS decided to exit the five-year partnership after consulting with its Development Advisory Committee and surveying attendees at last month’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference, according to an email that PBS development chief Betsy Gerdeman sent to station managers Thursday.

PBS canceled its own development conference, DevCon, in 2009 after the recession shrunk attendance and led to staff cutbacks in its own development department. By 2012 PBS began offering a public TV development track at PMDMC; as the partnership expanded the conference became the largest annual gathering in public media.

PMDMC will continue under Greater Public, said Doug Eichten, president. The next conference will be July 2017 in San Francisco.

While PBS’s decision “came as a surprise and a disappointment,” Eichten said, he foresees positive changes in future PMDMCs. “This gives us an opportunity to expand our work with music stations and the full spectrum of radio stations and joint licensees.” Greater Public also hopes to expand its partnership with PRPD in offering more engagement presentations at the conference.

“It’s been a great five years,” Eichten added, noting that conference attendance has grown annually.

PBS will also be offering more development opportunities at its two major conferences.

There’ll be “a greatly expanded digital fundraising presence” at PBS TechCon, April 2017 in Las Vegas, Gerdeman said in the email. That will look at “technology trends and how stations can leverage content and impact in the digital space to increase financial support,” she said.

Also, PBS will create a Development Day that will immediately follow the Annual Meeting next May in San Diego.