PBS’s year-to-date financial results show a net income of $22 million instead of the estimated $100,000 net loss anticipated in its fiscal year 2013 budget, the PBS Board of Directors heard at their meeting April 9 at headquarters in Arlington, Va. “I may never get to say this again, but that’s pretty impressive,” said Molly Corbett Broad, finance committee chair. Thanks to the influx, PBS’s FY14 budget contains an increase of $11 million for National Program Service content without a hike in dues for member stations. The draft budget, unanimously approved by the finance committee and full board, will arrive at public television stations in the coming weeks for comment. Total member assessment is $185.5 million, the same as FY13.
After negotiating with PBS for eight months over a proposal to reduce its dues and remake public TV in the Los Angeles market, the city’s biggest public station announced last week that it is preparing to completely drop out of the network. If KCET proceeds with its back-up plan for financial relief, as of Jan. 1 PBS would be left without a station committed to air the bulk of its schedule in the nation’s second-largest media market. It would be the first departure of a major-market member in the network’s history. KCET President Al Jerome told Current in an extended interview that he’d prefer to remain with PBS, but — if the network doesn’t budge — he has unanimous board backing to forgo the PBS brand and the icon series from its National Program Service.
After negotiating with PBS for eight months over a proposal to reduce its dues and reconfigure pubTV in the Los Angeles market, the city’s bigget public station announced this week that it may drop out of the network by Jan. 1. If KCET proceeds with that option, PBS would be left without a station committed to carrying its primetime and children’s schedules in the nation’s second-largest media market. It would be the first departure of a major-market member in the network’s history. KCET President Al Jerome told Current that he’d prefer to remain with PBS, but says — if the network doesn’t budge — he has unanimous backing from the station’s board of directors to forgo the PBS brand and the icon series of its National Program Service.
Paula Kerger wants public TV stations to know that the combination of flat station dues, dwindling resources and balanced budgets may be slowly strangling PBS’s ability to fund new-media innovation. “We can’t continue to go down this path,” the network president told her board March 26 . PBS’s member stations are strangling, too, and the network probably can’t count on them to contribute more in dues for fiscal year 2011, which starts in July. The board endorsed a balanced budget — to be sent to stations for comment — that relies on no increases in assessments for member services, program services or fundraising programming.The board also capped at 5 percent any dues increase or decrease levied on an individual station. Fiscal 2011 will be PBS’s second year in a row without an increase in station support.
Swamped by the recession tsunami as they prepared for the new fiscal year, public broadcasters at PBS headquarters; WQLN in Erie, Pa.; two Wisconsin stations and Colorado Public Radio cut budgets to keep their noses above the red ink.Falling by the wayside are established services, including the weeknightly newscast for Delaware viewers broadcast for 46 years by Philadelphia-based WHYY-TV and the local reports on the radio reading service for the blind operated for 16 years by WMFE-FM in Orlando, Fla.Troubled stations typically reported revenues that were down across the board, in underwriting, corporate donations, membership and state government support. With no higher ground for refuge, PBS officials told staffers June 11 that 45 positions, including some vacancies, would be eliminated. That’s about 10 percent of the network’s staff. PBS is struggling to close a $3.4 million deficit anticipated for fiscal year 2010. Spokeswoman Jan McNamara said the job cuts and other measures already adopted will eliminate about half of that shortfall.