Public Media Policybase

Stations’ Forum petition seeks to reorganize PBS, October 2000

The National Forum for Public Television Executives, meeting in Dallas Oct. 2-4, 2000, agreed upon the following petition to put before the PBS Members Meeting later that month, Oct. 24. The petition is divided into three amendments to a less specific “placeholder” petition that the Forum had submitted earlier.

In addition to the amendment on Organizational Change (immediately below), there are amendments on System Educational Strategy and New Business Models.

Organizational Change Amendment

Whereas, It is the strong sense of the National Forum for Public Television Executives (Forum) that it is time for a realignment and redesign of the membership organizations supporting the licensees of public television stations; and

Whereas, The Forum believes that an incremental redesign with modest changes will not serve the needs of the licensees; and

Whereas, The Forum explored several models for the re-organization of the public television membership organizations and concluded that one model embodies the objectives below and is worth further investigation; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That PBS take the lead, in consultation with the Forum Council, to convene a Task Force comprised of the CEOs and board chairs of membership organizations including but not limited to PBS, APTS, and NETA to investigate a systemwide re-organization of public television’s membership organizations, guided by the following principles:

A structure that will be cost-efficient and non-duplicative,

A structure that will support new economic models designed to generate substantial new gross or net revenue dollars to the system, while embodying a concept of ownership equity for station members,

A structure in which organizations or business units have clear strategic and business objectives,

A structure where there is clear accountability to stations,

A structure that assures broad and diverse representation of licensees in its governance model,

A structure that is consistent with the mission of public television; and, therefore, be it further

Resolved, That the Task Force begin its exploration by referencing the following model, which was developed by the Forum at its October 2000 meeting and incorporates many of the characteristics desired by station CEOs:

The model includes three targeted business and service activities in support of licensees: Content and Marketing, Technology and Distribution, and Licensee Services, Planning and Advocacy. It is recommended that one organization focus its service to the stations through two operating divisions Content and Marketing, and Technology and Distribution (CMTD). A separate and independent organization would be the licensee services, Planning and Advocacy arm of the system (PA).

A board of directors, comprised of lay representatives (one-third) and licensee representatives (two-thirds) would govern each organization, and would be elected by a third organization comprised of all licensee CEOs. This third CEO organization would be independent, but would be administered by the Planning and Advocacy organization. The boards of both the CMTD and PA organizations would ultimately be accountable to the CEO organization.

System Educational Strategy Amendment

WHEREAS, The membership of the National Forum for Public Television Executives has recognized that education is and has been the principle, guiding role for public television, evidenced by the fact that public television is the only universal provider of televised education in the United States, uniquely positioned to provide a national and local infrastructure for a multi-platform distribution service, utilizing the development of the digital television technology that will present new opportunities for education services; and

WHEREAS, The educational market place continues to show growth and opportunity for greater public television service with new resources available through existing federal sources estimated to annually provide as much as $850 million, coupled with renewed support from private foundations; and

WHEREAS, There is support for the individual efforts of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service to create additional educational services; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That public television should commit itself to a national vision for a coordinated, appropriately funded education and local service strategy equal to its National Program Service; and, further be it

RESOLVED, That the membership of the Public Broadcasting Service recommends the chairs of the Public Broadcasting Service, America’s Public Television Stations and the National Educational Telecommunications Association appoint a “blue ribbon” commission, comprised of leading individuals from the fields of public television, education, business and the arts, to recommend to the President, the Congress and to the public television industry, specific actions that will insure public television’s collective assets are a central element in meeting the country’s education goals in the 21st century.

New Business Models Amendment

WHEREAS, It is the sense of the National Forum for Public Television Executives that steps must be taken to insure that public television remains economically viable in today’s competitive analog world as well as the coming digital marketplace; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the PBS membership requests that its Board of Directors appoint a task force to work with the Council of the Forum to investigate business models that would meet several goals identified by the Forum. Those goals include:

  • Generating substantial new funds and increased quantity and quality of programming and services;
  • Improving efficiencies in decision making;
  • Increasing accountability to the stations;
  • Insuring that the board is representative of various licensee types and sizes;
  • Providing ownership equity for members, and
  • Generally supporting the mission of public broadcasting; and, further be it

RESOLVED, That the increased funding goal also seeks to make the NPS self-supporting by increasing revenue in the analog service by an estimated $200 million annually by further enhancing underwriting, but without including advertising on the analog broadcast services, and by developing ancillary and supplementary digital revenue opportunities; and be it

RESOLVED, That the PBS Board of Directors cooperate with the Council and other public television agencies in arranging the funding required to support independent research or fact finding needed to complete these investigations.

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