Dues slightly up, content spending slightly down in proposed fiscal 2013 PBS budget

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PBS’s draft fiscal 2013 budget would raise member dues by 2 percent. That would add $3.6 million to PBS’s total revenue, bringing the total membership assessment to $185.5 million. The PBS Board also recommended a cap of plus or minus 20 percent on the change to a station’s FY13 dues. There would be no cap for FY14, subject to board approval.

In a memo to stations, PBS President Paula Kerger said the board felt the cap “was the best way to ensure that dues accurately reflect the current financial situation of each station.”

Total projected revenues are $283.2 million, down from $287 million in FY12. Projected expenses are steady, around $292 million.

Total proposed content spending is down slightly, from $192.2 million in FY12 to $191.5 million in FY13. PBS will continue work to increase viewing Sundays through Wednesdays by scheduling shows that appeal to similar audiences on each night. PBS also plans to invest in new content to complement icon series Nature and Nova, as it did this year with the upcoming Antiques Roadshow partner program Market Wars. But it expects to spend $4 million less on new content development in FY13 — $7.8 million, down from $12.6 million in FY12.

The budget says PBS also needs the additional dues to stabilize its information technology and broadcast infrastructure, including the PBS Satellite Operations Center. PBS has deferred these costs in recent years to focus funding on content, the budget notes.

The document has been sent to member stations for feedback. The PBS Board will take final action on the budget at its June meeting.

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