Local programs: our niche, and it’s a mile wide

In the spring of 1991, a management consulting firm advised public TV to shift its spending from local to national programs. Current asked Jack Willis, president and c.e.o. of KTCA, Minneapolis/St. Paul, to revisit that suggestion. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study was meant to be provocative, and there is much in it that I find worthwhile — the challenge to the status quo, the need for a qualitative rating service, a reexamination of resource allocation and the call for joint ventures. But I believe the report’s most fundamental and controversial premise was wrong — the notion that local production, with few exceptions, is not valued by our viewers and should therefore be sacrificed for the national schedule. This premise is not supported by BCG’s own data, which measure value by ratings and pledge donations.