Jun 20, 2012

CPB report to Congress on alternative funding finds no viable substitute for federal support

If Congress were to zero-out federal appropriations to public broadcasting, 54 public television stations in 19 states and 76 pubradio stations in 38 states would be at "high risk" of shutting down,  CPB reported in  "Alternative Sources of Funding for Public Broadcasting Stations," a comprehensive revenue analysis produced by Booz & Company and delivered to Capitol Hill today (June 20).

Lawmakers requested the research paper in December 2011 when they approved CPB's fiscal 2014 advance appropriation for $445 million.

The report identifies five new or alternative funding options for public media — TV advertising, radio advertising, retransmission consent fees, paid digital subscriptions and digital game publishing — but says none of these offer "a realistic opportunity to generate significant positive net revenue that could replace the current amount of federal funding that CPB receives."

"A shift from a noncommercial model to a commercial advertising model," the report says, "would have dramatically negative consequences for many of the communities that public broadcasters serve. In the absence of federal funding, there are small urban stations, small-market stations, rural stations and stations that serve diverse communities that will likely fail because they do not have the capacity to either shift to a commercial model or raise the revenue to replace the loss of CPB funding."

The analysis predicts a domino effect of systemic collapse if Congress were to cut off the flow of federal aid to local stations. As at risk stations go dark, "a cascading debilitating effect" will spread to remaining stations and the national programming services provided by PBS and NPR. "At bottom, the loss of federal support for public broadcasting risks the collapse of the system itself," the report says.

Even upcoming broadcast spectrum auctions aren't a viable source of support, the report says, because the money would flow "on a one-time basis and only to television stations willing to give up their channels." Even if proceeds could be placed in an endowment fund for the system, "they would not be sufficient to provide an ongoing source of funding for public television and radio stations that could replace the federal appropriation."

A link to the entire document is available here.

Blue Ridge PBS lays off three staffers due to state budget cuts

Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Va., is cutting three staff positions in anticipation of a July 1 loss of state funding that comprises about 11 percent of its budget, according to the Roanoke Times. The station is laying off its two-person educational services staff and cutting an engineering job.

A $305,000 education services grant and a $97,000 community services grant were cut from the state budget signed last week by Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican.

“It’s hard to lose employees, but we’ve lost important educational services that we provide to schools, too,” Will Anderson, Blue Ridge PBS v.p. of production and operations, told the newspaper.

PRX debuts Spotify app drawing on KCRW hosts, archives

The Public Radio Exchange has created the first public-media app for Spotify, the popular music-streaming service. PRX worked with KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., to create a Spotify version of KCRW’s Music Mine app, originally designed for the iPad. The app introduces users to musicians picked by KCRW DJs and also offers a music stream and archived shows.