Exploring new paths to financial sustainability

February 2012
University of Southern California Conference Center
Washington, D.C.

This session, the first roundtable forum in the project, explored the growing disparities in the revenue models and service strategies of public radio and television stations.

Much of the discussion focused on the extent to which multi-station collaborations in off-air activities such as fundraising could assist local stations in reducing their operating costs.

We have returned to these topics again and again in subsequent sessions because many of the field’s leaders recognize the need for restructuring of the traditional public broadcasting system, especially among the small and mid-sized stations that struggle to provide a higher volume of unique, local service.  This approach to localism often requires expensive infrastructure and higher levels of staffing, particularly in content production and revenue development.

These issues remain highly relevant.  The entire public broadcasting system, which emerged in the late 1970s when terrestrial signals were the primary electronic media delivery platform, will need to be re-imagined for the digital service era, as stations look to “be more”–”be more local” and “be more PBS (or NPR)”– as Dennis Haarsager suggested in his paper.

Analysis and follow-up

Recession is just the latest thing to go wrong for public TV
Analysis by Mark Fuerst and Steve Behrens
Published in Current | Jan. 30, 2012

Reconceived public stations can ‘Be more PBS’ and be more local
Analysis by Dennis Haarsager
Published in Current | Jan. 30, 2012

 Forum Participants
  • Geoffrey Baum, Managing Director, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy – and KPCC-FM (in California)
  • Steve Behrens, Editor, Current
  • Ed Beimfohr, Associate Dean, American University School of Communication
  • David Brugger
  • Joseph Bruns, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, WETA-TV/FM
  • Geoffrey Cowan, Director, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy (in Calif.)
  • Vincent Curren, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • Therese Dizon, Research Associate, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy (Calif)
  • Karen Everhart, Senior Editor, Current
  • Mark Fuerst, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Current
  • Dennis Haarsager, Public Television Major Market Group
  • Maxie C Jackson III, President & CEO, National Federation of Community Broadcasters
  • Jacqui Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Black Programming Consortium
  • Larry Kirkman, Dean, American University School of Communication
  • Kevin Klose, Dean, Philip Merrill College of Journalism, University of Maryland
  • John Lawson, Mobile 500 Alliance
  • Tom Livingston, President, Livingston Associates
  • Anna Lopez, Executive Director, National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • Michael Marcotte, former news director, KPBS-FM/TV San Diego (in California)
  • Jane McDonnell, executive director, Online News Association
  • Dick McPherson, McPherson Associates
  • Doug Mitchell, Next Generation Radio
  • Jack Mitchell, Professor emeritus, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison (in Wisconsin)
  • Adam Powell, Senior Fellow, USC Center on Communication Leadership and Policy
  • George Rivera, Executive Producer, eHarlem TV
  • Marita Rivero, Vice President and General Manager for Radio and Television, WGBH
  • Andrew Russell, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Research and Ventures, Public Broadcasting Service
  • Brian Sickora, President and CEO, WSKG Public Broadcasting
  • Tom Thomas, Station Resource Group
  • Carol Varney, Managing Director, Bay Area Video Coalition