NPR will proceed with new web services for stations
After months of consultations, NPR’s plan to expand its role as a web technology and service provider for local stations will now move forward full-speed.
On Sept. 16, the NPR Board endorsed the digital-services build-out, to be paid for in part by mandatory fees imposed on member stations. It also approved the net’s $173.7 million budget for fiscal 2011, projecting 6 percent revenue growth over this year.
NPR revised its initial fee structure, which stirred objections on both principle and pocketbook issues. Its digital execs are still working to address concerns such as interoperability between NPR and PBS’s web systems for radio/TV licensees.
The net will charge a small flat fee of $1,800 to all stations as originally proposed, but not as membership dues. Station leaders urged NPR not to link their member fees, which support the work of NPR’s policy and representation staff, to content-related services.
Most stations will also be required to pay much higher digital service fees that will be determined by their total revenues, and NPR agreed to revisit these mandatory assessments at the end of its three-year start-up phase, examining a fee-for-service structure.
Fee disputes aside, NPR Digital leaders built broad support for their plans by consulting widely with station execs. Ninety-seven percent of those who attended NPR’s digital “roadshows” agreed that the digital strategy will benefit public media, and 92 percent said it will benefit their own stations, according to survey results presented by Bob Kempf, g.m. of NPR Digital.