This concise document, making the case for the Forum, was prepared by public TV’s Core Working Group and released in this revised form in September 1997, two months before the Forum was established. See also other Forum documents. 1. The community of PTV stations needs a new process and a framework to address key business opportunities and issues. a. We are faced today with the need to address important issues brought about by advancing technology and increased competition.
This is the record of recorded votes taken during the Convention of Stations, Nov. 5, 1997, in Austin, which established the Forum, amending and adopting its original charter. Voters “present” include chief executives voting by proxy. Vote on the Forum charter
113 votes were cast, including 7 not present
On a one licensee/one vote basis:
90 voted yes, representing 85 percent of those present,
16 voted no, representing 15 percent of those present,
7 not present for the vote, representing 4 percent of those present at the convention. On a system-wide purchasing power basis:
576 purchasing power units voted yes, representing 86 percent of the units present,
68 purchasing power units voted no, representing 10 percent of the units present,
26 purchasing power units were not present for the vote, representing 4 percent of the units present
Vote to join the Forum
117 votes were cast, including 11 not present and 26 abstains
On a one licensee/one vote basis:
73 voted yes, representing 62.5 percent of those present
7 voted no, representing 6 percent of those present
26 abstained or were not present, representing 22 percent of those present
11 were not present for the vote, representing 9.5 percent of those present at the convention
On a system-wide purchasing power basis:
465 purchasing power units voted yes, representing 65 percent of the units present,
24 purchasing power units voted no, representing 3.5 percent of those present,
183 purchasing power units abstained, representing 25 percent of those present,
46 purchasing power units were not present for the vote, representing 6.5 percent of those present at the convention.
As public TV’s Core Working Group worked to build consensus around creation of the Forum in 1997, it published this Q&A, both on paper and on its web site. “Countdown ’97” was the group’s name for its consensus-building process. Questions and Answers about Countdown ’97
Here are questions typical of those we’ve heard general managers and others in the public television community ask about Countdown ’97, along with answers from John Hershberger, Senior Associate with BMR Associates, the San Francisco consulting firm guiding the Countdown ’97 process. Countdown ’97 will conclude with a Convention of Stations in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 5.
A majority of public TV stations voted to create the National Forum for Public Television Executives (the CEO Forum) at a Convention of Stations in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 5, 1997. Current covered the founding as well as the discontinuance of the forum five years later in July 2003. The forum had been created in an extended process by a committee called the Core Working Group, initially appointed by America’s Public Television Stations (APTS). The Case for Change (draft), May 1997
Questions & answers about the process of creating the Forum (“Countdown 97”), drafted by the Core Working Group, 1997
Charter (as amended) for the National Forum for Public Television Executives, Nov.
The Senate Democratic leadership has asked the White House to appoint a Senate alumnus, David H. Pryor of Arkansas, to one of the two vacancies on the nine-seat CPB Board. The former senator is dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Pryor would fill a long-vacant seat reserved for a non-Republican under a provision of the Public Broadcasting Act that requires the CPB Board to be bipartisan. The Bush administration refused to nominate an earlier Democratic candidate for the seat, media studies professor Chon Noriega. The other vacant seat probably would be filled by a Republican.
What could Congress, CPB or anyone do to prevent the conflicts, failed decisions and other embarrassments bubbling out of the Tomlinson affair? Perhaps the central problem is that the Public Broadcasting Act tells CPB, run by well-connected political appointees, to protect public broadcasting from political influence while also fostering objectivity and balance on the air. While CPB’s inspector general and many others criticize former CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson for violating the first mandate, he and his supporters at the Wall Street Journal still say he was only doing his duty under the other. Though APTS proposes several reforms at CPB, eliminating this central conflict of interest is not one of them. “It’s a fragile compromise that goes back 40 years,” says APTS President John Lawson.
Pacifica’s transition to a listener-elected board of directors carried an unexpectedly high price tag, and network executives are exploring cheaper alternatives. Last year the radio network enshrined its democratic principles in bylaws that empowered its staff and members of stations to elect Local Station Boards. Those boards in turn vote for the network’s national board. The bylaws were a crowning achievement to activists who spent years wresting Pacifica from an unpopular board, which had begun appointing its own members and installed a top-down governance style. But the additional governance costs have shocked some Pacifica leaders, who ask whether the cash-strapped network can sustain them.
Five years after setting it up as a way of helping public TV make decisions with new decisiveness and agility, members voted decisively and nearly unanimously this month to shut it down. The National Forum for Public Television Executives, which never had a full-time staff and is folding with 87 public TV licensees — about half of the total number — as members, had held useful discussions but never proved itself indispensable, leaders said. Fifty of the 55 member stations voting in a recent ballot favored closing the forum, said Chairman Gary Ferrell last week. The forum’s governing council decided to call for the vote in June. They modeled the vote after a “sunset” vote required by the forum’s charter after its first year.