NPR extends dues relief to stations

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April Simpson/Current

Despite facing a major budget shortfall, NPR told member stations Friday that it is suspending planned fee increases.

Under a new fee model passed last year by NPR’s board of directors, some stations would have seen dues increases of as much as 10% beginning in fiscal year 2021. But in response to the pandemic, the board passed a resolution that no member stations will see increases in their core fees — which pay for newsmagazines, membership dues and digital services — in FY21, according to an email from CEO John Lansing and SVP for Member Partnership Gemma Hooley sent to station leaders and obtained by Current.

Stations that were set to have their core fees reduced will still receive those reductions, according to the email. The reductions are capped at 3% of their current payments.

Rates for NPR’s non-newsmagazine programs will not increase between FY20 and FY21, the email said.

“NPR is working on multiple fronts to support the remarkable service that NPR Member stations provide to their audiences and communities,” NPR spokesperson Isabel Lara said in a statement. “We have today adjusted FY21 fee model rates to be responsive to the financial pressure under which all stations are operating, in the hope that the adjustment might bring some relief and help sustain their audience service mission.”

NPR has been building reporting networks with stations through efforts such as journalism hubs, in addition to improving digital infrastructure and expanding collaborative fundraising efforts. Lansing and Hooley reaffirmed NPR’s commitment to those initiatives.

“At a time when public media is providing vital audience service to every community, while under significant financial pressure, NPR is determined to continue our efforts to work together to increase system revenue through membership and collaborative fundraising initiatives,” the email said.

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