Pledge Drives Muscle In on PBS Programming

Individuals are cash-strapped stations' biggest funding source
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 14, 2011 11:56 AM CDT
'Les Miserables' has been a huge hit for PBS.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Between the recession and threats to its federal funding, PBS is facing tough times—so don’t be surprised if you see a lot more Les Miserables and self-help programming. PBS stations have upped the length of televised pledging periods by 9% since 2005, the company says, with some stations spending 10 weeks a year on fundraising. And this month, it’s been working: viewers have pledged 31% more cash than they did last March, the New York Times reports.

While some viewers may miss their usual programming, “I believe strongly that it’s totally appropriate for us to be doing that, going on the air to a perfectly targeted group of our users and explaining why we need their help,” says an exec. Individuals are local stations’ top funding source, the company notes; in 2009, they provided 24% of the stations’ revenue. Now, PBS is hoping to pull in new, younger donors by boosting online fundraising efforts. Click for why public broadcasting should just go private.

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