Technology is bringing a sea change to the broadcasting industry, but nowhere more profoundly than in public television. Stations will be free to specialize where they now dabble; to excel where they now experiment. In the one-channel analog world, stations of necessity can excel mainly in one mission. In a multi-channel digital world, they can — perhaps must — learn to serve other audiences from other mission bases.
The winners in this new world will make decisions based on the best possible information, they will be agile enough to capitalize on developing opportunities, and they will form alliances with each other and with entities outside public television. Good information, agility, and meaningful collaborations are not the first attributes which come to mind about public television.
For public television to be truly successful, communication among the decision makers is essential. Public television executives often meet; yet we tend to be less informed, more bewildered, more divisive and less trusting over a growing list of issues that will affect our individual and collective ability to provide services to our communities.
To nurture a winning collaborative environment, public television needs a new decision-making process and framework. With these in place, we can learn from each other, we can make informed decisions about when to act as one and when to act separately, and we can profit from our separate and collective strengths.
The statements below define what should be commonplace realities for public television. Our vision is that they be understood and adopted as such by our own leadership, and by key individuals in the public and private sector, as well as the American people at large.
A variety of financial and organizational frustrations has led many public television leaders to press for major changes in the way “we do business,” both in our organizational structures and in our decision making processes.
One effort to address these concerns was shaped by a Task Force on Governance and implemented by the PBS Board of Directors. This change increased the number of licensee chief executives on the PBS Board and reduced the number of lay directors. A newly structured membership meeting and other improvements were also adopted.
A second effort is under the guidance of BMR Associates, which APTS hired in 1996 to help public television improve its decision-making processes. A report issued by BMR in the Fall of 1996 laid out the case for change. These are the key points:
1. The community of public television stations needs a new decision-making process to address key business opportunities and issues.
PTV is faced today with the need to address important issues brought about by advancing technology and increased competition. To be dealt with effectively, these issues need coordinated responses from PTV licensees. Current processes have proven to be less than satisfactory.
2. PTV needs a decision-making process that allows it to act decisively in response to competitive pressures and threats.
The number and strength of competitors for PTV’s markets are increasing, and this trend will continue. PTV’s competitors are able to make decisions more quickly and competitively. As a result, PTV loses key opportunities.
3. PTV needs a decision-making process that enables it to more effectively plan for its future.
4. PTV needs to change its patterns of interaction to work together more effectively.
This Vision and Case for Change lead the Core Working Group to propose the following:
The creation of a Forum and Council that enables public television licensee senior executives to communicate, discuss, appreciate, and understand their respective positions on major opportunities and issues — and to reach decisions about their business affairs effectively and efficiently.
1. This charter establishes an independent Forum of public television licensees. The purpose of the Forum is to encourage licensee CEOs to communicate, discuss, deliberate and make decisions about major opportunities and issues for the public television industry in a timely manner.
2. All public television licensees are eligible to become members of the Forum. All members pledge to uphold the principles and terms of this charter. Only members are allowed to cast votes in the Forum. Members will pay dues to support the work of the Forum and Council.
3. The CEO or senior operating executive of each licensee is the designated representative of that licensee to the Forum. A member licensee’s number two executive may attend the Forum as long as the station’s chief executive officer is also present. If a licensee is not a member, its CEO may attend the Forum, but he or she will not have voting privileges.
The CEOs of the national and regional organizations may also attend the Forum. However, a portion of each Forum will be given over to licensee CEOs only.
4. The Forum will meet face to face at least once a year. Meetings will be held adjacent to other public television meetings whenever possible.
Electronic communications should be used for Forum meetings and on-going communications whenever practical. Meetings can be called by the council or by 51% of the members.
5. The agenda of the Forum will be determined by the Council, in consultation with members of the Forum. A portion of each Forum will be given to members to raise agenda items for consideration at future Forums. All CEOs have the right to voice their opinions to the Forum and to the Council in person and through other means.
6. All CEOs will be on the record with their votes at the Forum.
7. To advise and assist the work of the Forum, lay people and public broadcasting professionals other than CEOs may be involved through ad hoc committees where appropriate.
1. Public television stations operate under a variety of economic and ownership models, and members acknowledge that it benefits all stations to broaden and deepen the understanding of these different models.
2. Members are free to determine how best to fulfill their mission in the community they serve. At the same time, members acknowledge that public television stations are inter-dependent. Members acknowledge that it is in their interest to continually weigh the interplay of these two forces — and to make decisions accordingly.
3. Members pledge to invest the resources given them by the American public to fulfill their missions as effectively as possible.
4. Members will strive to do no harm to any station.
1. The work of the Forum will be guided by the Council, which will meet in person no less than four times a year. The Council’s overall responsibilities are to:
2. The Council will consist of 13 chosen members of the Forum, representing the broad diversity of public television.
3. The Council will have a rotating chair.
4. The Council will contract for outside services and/or staff as it deems necessary to advance the goals laid out in this charter.
5. The Council will use the following criteria in selecting items for the Forum’s agenda:
6. Prior to the Forum, the Council will send the agenda and background materials to all members. Member input will be sought on agenda items.
7. In the case of “fast-track” items, the Council may convene a virtual Forum via electronic means to take Advisory votes.
8. The Council has the responsibility to ensure that:
9. The Council will not sign confidentiality agreements that limit its ability to communicate to the Forum or the Stations.
10. Whenever there is an issue which affects a national or regional organization, the Council, as the representative of the Forum, will meet promptly with that organization and request a response in a timely and agreed-upon manner.
1. To cast votes in the Forum, a CEO’s licensee must be a member.
2. Because the issuance of proxies goes against the purpose of the Forum, which is to encourage CEOs to engage in productive discussion, proxies are not allowed except when approved by a majority of the Council.
3. Two kinds of votes can be taken by the Forum: Advisory Votes and Resolutions.
4. Advisory votes may be introduced at any time; resolutions will be introduced only after a majority of the Council votes to do so.
5. A member will cast only one vote per Advisory Vote or Resolution, but the member’s vote will be tallied in two ways: one member/one vote, and weighted according to the member’s PBS Pricing Factor (PPF) excluding the normal PBS adjustment for the amount of the National Program Service purchased. (Members who are not PBS members will have a pro forma PPF calculated for them. The weight will be calculated by the PBS method of indexing all members’ PPF to the smallest PPF, and assigning the smallest PPF a vote of one.)
6. The quorum for an Advisory Vote is met if more than 50 percent of members are present and voting. Proxies do not apply to the quorum count.
7. To pass, an Advisory Vote requires a majority vote of more than 50 percent of the membership by both tallies.
8. Advisory Votes can take the following general forms:
9. The quorum for Resolutions is met if more than 50 percent of the members are present and voting. Proxies do not apply to the quorum count.
10. To pass, a Resolution requires a majority vote of 75 percent or more of the membership by both tallies. Proxies are included in Resolution votes.
11. Resolutions can take the following general forms:
12. All votes are recorded, with each member’s vote made known to all other CEOs. Any proxy votes will be noted as such.
1. Only members are eligible to vote for — or to serve on — the Council.
2. Nine of the thirteen Council members will be elected. The nine elected members will fall into three categories:
3. The election will be conducted in a two-stage process. Prior to the first stage of the election, a list of all members will be distributed showing in which category they qualify. Those members wishing not to stand for election will return the list showing their name crossed off.
4. In the first phase, a ballot will be distributed, showing the candidates in each category. Within a specified period of time, each member will cast three votes in each category, a maximum of one vote per candidate. A member does not need to cast all its votes.
5. In the second phase, a second ballot will be distributed showing the top six vote-getters in each category. Each member will cast one vote per category.
6. In the case of ties after the first phase, more than six candidates may run for election per category. In the case of ties after the second phase, the outcome shall be determined by a run-off.
7. Four of the thirteen Council members will be selected by the Council.
Selection of those four will be made to ensure representation among the following types of licensees:
8. Council members will serve two-year terms. Council members may stand for election for three consecutive terms. After serving three terms, they must go off the Council for at least one year before running for election again.
1. This charter can be amended. Any change requires approval of more than 50 percent of the members.
1. All public television CEOs are eligible to vote on this charter, either in person or by proxy. This charter will go into effect immediately if approved by more than 50 percent of those voting.
2. The Council and Forum will cease to exist one year after the vote to approve this charter, unless re-approved by a majority of its then-current members.
Copyright 2012 American University