More Stations May Leave PBS

May 23, 2011  •  Post A Comment

As public television stations struggle with declining donations, some are considering whether to leave the PBS family, reports Elizabeth Jensen in The New York Times.

They include WTTW-TV in Chicago, whose board earlier this year told its management to consider the question of withdrawing from PBS, and Orlando’s WMFE-TV, which said in April the TV station would be sold because it couldn’t pay its PBS dues of a little less than $1 million, the piece notes.

This comes after Los Angeles’ KCET-TV quit PBS on Jan. 1, citing PBS dues.

One critical issue for all these stations is that each of the three cities has more than one PBS station, with the biggest one paying the heftiest fees to get rights to PBS’s most popular shows. The smaller stations can still broadcast some of those shows, as long as they wait eight days, even though they pay smaller dues.

"What no one knows is how many other stations are contemplating quitting,” Jensen writes. “The PBS station in Waco, Texas, shut down last year for financial reasons, and there are murmurs of half a dozen more stations, at least–no one will name them on the record–that are on the fence and could leave depending on whether state and federal financing fall through.”

Each station departure means less money for PBS to use for its programs, the piece notes.

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