‘Tell them Newt asked you to help’

Fundraising pitches by House Speaker Newt Gingrich drew unprecedented media coverage and helped to boost March pledge receipts at WPBA, Atlanta, home-town public TV station for the powerful Georgia Republican who has vowed to end federal aid for public broadcasting. Gingrich taped a series of spots urging national and local viewers to “open your wallets” and support public television. “Tell them Newt Gingrich asked you to help make sure that PBS stays on the air and Channel 30 stays strong because more than ever it’s going to need our support as individuals to make sure it has the funding it needs,” the congressman said in a self-scripted 45-second message for Atlanta viewers. Late last week, only a handful of stations elsewhere had begun to use national versions of the spots in their on-air campaigns. WCET, Cincinnati, reported that viewers had responded negatively to its use of the pitch.

Consultant to CPB: Public broadcasting is worth billions to the public

If public broadcasting loses its federal aid, it’s “highly unlikely” that it will recover the same amounts by increasing revenues from product licensing, individual contributors or local and state governments, an economics consulting firm reported back to CPB last week. Moreover, “the nature of public broadcasting will inevitably change” if the field loses its federal assistance, according to National Economic Research Associates, a White Plains, N.Y., firm that presented conclusions of its CPB-commissioned study to the CPB Board on March 14. Steven Schwartz, v.p. of NERA, also estimated that public broadcasting has a value of $2.8 billion to $4.3 billion to the American public–far more than the $1.8 billion from all sources that are spent on it, or the $285 million that Congress appropriated for this year. The study responded to remarks by public broadcasting’s opponents on the CPB funding issue, who contend that the field could easily replace the federal aid. No easy options
Revenues from product licensing are “too small and uncertain to be relied upon,” Schwartz told the CPB Board.