PBS narrowly averted losing the membership of Chicago affiliate WTTW, the New York Times is reporting today (May 23). Earlier this year the board of WTTW-TV told management to consider withdrawing from the system, as KCET had done in January. “Our board, they are smart business people," says Dan Schmidt, WTTW president, "and when they look at our business model they scratch their heads and they say this is upside down from a business standpoint.” He says his station pays $4.5 million a year in PBS dues, and yet “viewers can see that content on other stations and increasingly, whenever they want to on PBS.org." WTTW had a $4.2 million operating deficit last year, Schmidt says.
The paper says there are "murmurs of half a dozen more stations, at least — no one will name them on the record — that are on the fence and could leave," depending on state and federal financing situations.