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PBS Money Problems

The NY Times has an article today on the drop in corporate donations to PBS and how this is affecting programs like The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. These paragraphs jumped out (emphasis mine):

In the last five years, corporate underwriting on PBS has varied; in 2007, it totaled $91 million, or just under 23 percent of all program financing, PBS said. But the core series of the PBS schedule, like “NewsHour,” “Nova” and “Masterpiece Theater,” known internally as the icon series, have had corporate underwriting drop 40 percent.
As a result, although viewers will not have noticed any difference except in the end credits, PBS is permitting programs to experiment, which has produced short-term sponsorships for “Nova” and “Antiques Roadshow,” and even a two-week Sony Classics sponsorship of “Masterpiece Theater.”
The experiments could become permanent, as PBS is studying changing its policies about sponsorship. Last fall, a study from the research firm McKinsey found that corporations would be more receptive if PBS permitted shorter deals, broadcast corporate messages more quickly and provided more audience data, “so they could have a good sense of who they were reaching with their messages,” said Andrew Russell, senior vice president of PBS Ventures.

Maybe Elmo and Big Bird can hold a corporate retreat on basic management concepts if the McKinsey report proves too daunting to comprehend. And on second thought, do they really need to hire McKinsey to tell them this?


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