Mar 30, 2009

Some stations lagging in PBS dues

PBS station paid dues are running about 4 percent behind last year at this date, network CFO Barbara Landes told the board at today's meeting in Arlington, Va. As of Friday, figures were down 4 percent compared with this same time last year. That's actually an improvement since January, when dues were down 8 percent compared with January 2008. Landes said PBS had been "tracking closely" the payment of dues, for both timeliness and amount. "Any threat to the flow of dollars has significant implications for PBS as well as producers," she added. Landes reiterated that PBS does not waive dues or late fees for stations.

Nonprofits in dire straits, report says

The nation's nonprofits are in serious trouble, according to a report released today by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. It's a survey of 986 nonprofits in markets across the country. Among the troubling findings: 31 percent don’t have enough cash to cover more that one month of expenses; 12 percent expect to operate above break-even this year; 16 percent think they'll be able to cover operating expenses in 2009 and '10; 52 percent expect the recession to have a long-term or permanent negative financial effect on their organization. This link offers both a summary and another link to the full PDF report.

Employees grumbling over KQED head's salary

The nearly $400,000 salary of KQED president Jeff Clarke is creating discontent within the station, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. That's a pretty good chunk of change considering the station has laid off 30 employees, cut 13 percent of its budget and froze executive salaries until 2010. Senior managers also voluntarily reduced their salaries 13 percent. "In this economy, [Clarke's salary] just doesn't make sense," Kevin Wilson, president of Local 51 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, to which most of the station's employees belong.

NPR will join PBS managers at meeting

Reps from NPR will be attending this year's PBS General Managers' Planning Meeting May 11 in Baltimore. The meeting coincides with the annual PBS Showcase. At today's PBS Board Meeting, member Jennifer Lawson said she's pleased with the growing collaboration between the two pubcasting entitites. "I love the fact that we're including NPR as part of these meetings," said Lawson, g.m. of WHUT in Washington, D.C. "It's wonderful that there are more and more forums and circumstances that bring all of us together as public media." The board meeting runs through tomorrow at PBS headquarters in Arlington, Va. Issues before the governing group include Station Services membership policies and fundraising programming dues in overlap markets.

Schiller favors planned fundraiser over national on-air appeals

Top NPR personalities have proposed that the network mount a national pledge drive to help close its widening budget gap. There is a historic precedent for the idea, Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg tells the Washington Post: NPR appealed for direct listener support in 1983, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. "Think how much we'd be able to do now if were were doing something similar," Stamberg says. But during an interview with Current last week, NPR President Vivian Schiller downplayed the proposal for an NPR pledge drive. "They are not our listeners," she said, nodding to the on-air fundraising prerogatives of member stations. NPR is moving forward with an online fundraiser via, Schiller told Current, but all proceeds will go to local stations. In a tweet reacting to the Post's story, former Weekend America host John Moe imagined stations' response to NPR pledge appeals: "NPR thinking of having its own network pledge drive. Stations thinking of taking up pitchforks, torches, battering rams, those peasant hats." Check out reactions from the Post's readers here.