PBS board approves station dues increase for FY2023

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PBS’ board of directors unanimously approved an operating plan and budget for fiscal year 2023 Thursday that increases station dues by 4%.

Income from station assessments for FY23 is set to increase by $8.1 million year over year to reach $211.9 million. Station dues revenue in FY2022 was $203.7 million, up from $201.7 million in FY2021 and FY2020.

PBS’ total budget is expected to break even at $359.4 million. The budget for FY22 was $339.1 million. Finance Committee Chair Maxine Clark said Thursday that feedback from member station leaders on the proposed budget was “positive overall.” 

During the board meeting, PBS President Paula Kerger said the budget “makes critical investments as we continue to pivot to a truly multiplatform organization … with diversity, equity and inclusion a central tenet of every step of production.” Kerger said investing in the PBS Passport service is also key to the budget.

“Historic inflation as well as an extremely tight labor market has impacted all aspects of the American economy,” Kerger said during a March 31 board meeting, where she first disclosed the budget plans. “We forecast a significant increase in costs in FY2023 for content, for app maintenance and developments, streaming fees and enterprise cybersecurity and resilience.”

All major line items among PBS’ expenses are expected to increase during FY23, including content and marketing, which will increase by $10 million to $229.4 million. Rising costs are also budgeted for technology and distribution, member services and general administration.

To help offset the rising costs, PBS approved the 4% dues increase and will invest $20.1 million from its designated net assets in FY23. About $11 million was invested from PBS’ designated net assets in FY22.

PBS also expects to bring in $3.9 million more in grants to reach $88.9 million in FY23.

In April, Kerger sent a memo to station leaders previewing the FY23 budget and dues increase. “Over the last ten years, PBS has kept annual dues increases to a minimum (an average of 1.1% per year) and has absorbed an increasingly larger proportion of the annual budget as costs for content, streaming, and digital infrastructure rise at a much faster rate,” Kerger wrote in the memo obtained by Current. Kerger added that the increased use of grants and designated net assets will “further meet the needs of the system.”

New and nominated board members

Mark Contreras, CEO of Connecticut Public Broadcasting, was unanimously elected to the PBS board of directors Thursday and will replace Susi Elkins, who left the board and her GM position at WKAR Public Media in East Lansing, Mich., this spring.

Contreras

Contreras was elected to the 2023 class of directors. His term is effective immediately and will commence at the fall board meeting of 2023. Contreras was assigned to serve on the station services committee, the national policy advisory committee, the strategic planning advisory group and the editorial standards working group.

Kevin Martin, CEO of Ideastream Public Media in Cleveland and chair of the nominating and corporate government committee, also announced nominees to the board who, if elected, will take their seats in October.

The new nominees are Franz Joachim, CEO of New Mexico PBS; Greg Petrowich, CEO of WFYI in Indianapolis; and Dolores Sukhdeo, CEO of South Florida PBS.

The incumbent nominees are Rob Dunlop, CEO of Cascade Public Media in Seattle; Paul Hunton, GM of Texas Tech Public Media in Lubbock; and Courtney Pledger, CEO of Arkansas PBS.

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