PBS proposes 2% dues increase, okays common-carriage extension

PBS is seeking a 2 percent increase in membership fees in its draft budget for fiscal 2013. Although still subject to review by station execs and formal approval by the PBS Board, the proposed dues hike would be the first since fiscal 2009.

“A key focus of this budget is the performance of critical maintenance on PBS’s technology infrastructure that is necessary to maintain reliable distribution of content to stations,” PBS spokesperson Jan McNamara told Current in a statement. “The majority of station dues [are] dedicated to content. This will continue to be the case in the coming fiscal year. In order to retain the system’s investment in content, key infrastructure issues must be addressed in FY13.”

The PBS Board approved management’s proposed budget on March 30 [2012], a vote that essentially begins the annual debate among pubTV stations over PBS spending for next year.

Although the 2013 budget has not yet been released, station assessments comprised 63 percent of PBS’s $287 million total revenue budget in fiscal 2012, or $181 million, according to a budget proposal circulated last spring.

The PBS Board also voted unanimously to amend the network’s common-carriage policy, aligning it with the ongoing revamp of its primetime schedule.

The new policy allows network programmers to designate up to three hours of primetime programs per night for common carriage. The cap had previously been set at two hours.

The change does not affect the total number of common-carriage hours PBS can designate over the season, or station flexibility to preempt common-carriage programming.

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