In an experiment signaling public TV’s resolve to address concerns about the long-term effects of transactional pledging on its donor base, PBS plans to test whether fundraising around regularly scheduled signature series can convert more viewers into loyal members and donors. Though traditional fundraising programs generate more cash for stations, many development professionals believe that pledging around core programs could yield better-quality donors who are committed to public TV’s mission. Stations such as Maryland Public Television and PBS SoCal in Orange County, Calif., have successfully pledged series from PBS’s National Program Service, as well as popular British dramas and comedies acquired from other distributors. Their results prompted PBS to take a deeper dive into the approach. “As we transition from a goal of gross dollars into a broader philosophy of the long-term value of donors, this seemed like a great time to look seriously at best practices with emphasis on sustaining donations,” said Joe Campbell, v.p. of fundraising programming.
PBS topped all the other broadcast networks, as runners-up ABC and CBS each won seven. POV’s “Last Train Home,” a film about Chinese migrant workers who go home to celebrate New Year’s, won in two categories — best documentary and outstanding business and economic reporting (long form) — while “Armadillo,” which tracked Danish soldiers in Afghanistan, was cited for editing in the documentary and long form category. Also in the long-form category, “Enemies of the People,” which examined Cambodia’s killing fields, won for outstanding investigative journalism; and “Where Soldiers Come From,” about National Guard recruits from northern Michigan, was cited for its continuing coverage of a news story. All films aired during 2011, POV’s 25th season. “Many of the filmmakers honored tonight have taken tremendous risks to tell these stories of common people caught up in extraordinary circumstances,” said Cynthia López, co-executive producer of POV.
Mike deGruy, an acclaimed cinematographer with a love of the sea who created several Nature documentaries on PBS, was killed Feb. 4 in a helicopter crash in Australia. He was 60. His employer, National Geographic Society, said that deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight crashed after takeoff near Nowra, 97 miles north of Sydney. Australia’s ABC News reported that Wight was piloting the helicopter.