The vast majority of stations responding to the University Station Alliance’s most recent economic survey reported that they’re not likely to be sold or make changes in their governance structure this year.
Of 141 stations responding to USA’s fourth annual survey, 88.4 percent indicated that station sales or other ownership changes were not under consideration. Only a handful of stations indicated that talks of consolidation (4 percent), local management agreements (4 percent) or frequency sales (5 percent) were in the works, according to the survey. It was conducted among public radio licensees earlier this summer; a few respondents also operate public TV stations.
Almost 40 percent of stations will be receiving less direct support from their educational licensees this year, but most (72 percent) said the funding cuts have not prompted changes in their programming or public service. Fifty-nine percent of station respondents said they expect to earn more revenues from audience support; 46 percent are projecting increased underwriting sales.
USA, an affinity group for stations owned by university licensees, has published summaries of the survey findings as PDF files on its homepage.
It is unclear from this text who the survey respondents were. If they were high-level university administrators, then the results are significant and reassuring. If the respondents were station managers, though, the value of the results may dip somewhat. Generally, managers are the last to know of a licensee’s desire to sell, and, worse, are often self-deceiving in reading the signals coming from the licensee. Torey Malatia, Chicago Public Media.
In addition to what Torey said, it seems that the organization doing the study consists of radio stations that are traditional NPR stations with paid staff and not student-run stations, which seems to me to be what both religious organizations and other public radio entities want more than the stations that are already operating as paid staff, professional stations.