PBS board approves $373M budget, applauds contract extension for CEO Paula Kerger

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Courtesy of PBS

PBS President Paula Kerger at the 2024 PBS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

The PBS board of directors on Wednesday approved a fiscal year 2025 budget that increases station dues by 4%.

The break-even budget aims to generate $227 million from stations in FY25, an increase of $8.7 million from FY24 and about 61% of the $373.4 million total revenues projected for 2025.

The dues increase, floated in March when PBS sent its draft budget to stations, aligned PBS’ dues request with inflation. PBS plans to invest more funds in PBS Passport, the membership streaming service, and other content initiatives like adding more local livestreams.

During the public session of the meeting, the board did not discuss the budget pressures that prompted PBS to layoff 24 staffers last week. The workforce reduction also cut seven vacant positions. PBS President Paula Kerger told station managers in a June 11 memo that her leadership team sought to achieve “operational efficiencies” with the layoffs that would “deliver the best value for stations.” She also cited “economic instability, disruption in the media landscape, and political uncertainty” as factors in the downsizing.

Before the budget vote, Board Chair Larry Irving announced that Kerger had decided to execute a contract clause that extends her PBS presidency for five more years. The announcement was met with applause in Cleveland, where the board convened its June meeting at Ideastream Public Media’s headquarters.

The contract renewal, which Irving first announced at a private event on Monday, demonstrates how respected Kerger is within public television circles, he said. “It was great seeing the reaction of that room last night. I don’t know too many CEOs of organizations who get standing ovations for saying they’re coming back.”

“This will cement, for a very long time to come, her status as the longest serving president of PBS,” Irving added. “This kind of stability in leadership in a national organization, particularly in media organizations, at this time in our nation’s history, is extraordinary.”

During the public session, the board’s nominating committee announced its slate of candidates for professional director seats. They include incumbents Shae Hopkins, CEO of Kentucky Educational Television; Amy Shaw, CEO of Nine PBS in St. Louis; Jayme Swain, CEO of VPM in Richmond, Va.; and Ed Ulman, CEO of Alaska Public Media.

Station leaders nominated to join the board include: Carla McCabe, CEO of WVIA Public Media in Pittston, Pa.; Jim Rademaker, GM of WGVU Public Media in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Chuck Roberts, CEO of Lakeshore Public Media in Merrillville, Ind.

After station leaders vote in August to elect nominees, the directors would take their seats in September.

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