January 20, 2016

Public Radio in Mid America
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
January 20, 2016

Called to Order: 2:30 PM

Board Members Present: Tim Eby, Regina Dean, Christina Kuzmych, Paul Maassen, Mike Savage, Steve Schram, Dan Skinner

PRSS Fee Proposal

Mike Savage reported that the NPR D/I Committee is making a recommendation that the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS) Fee formula be changed to be based on a percentage of Total Station Revenue (TSR). The proposal is being made in order to make the fees more equitable based on station income as opposed to the current fee structure which is equal for all stations. It is also being proposed as a way to give PRSS the flexibility to respond to a changing funding environment. Mike reported that in the past CPB has received separate 10-year grants to support the interconnect system for Public TV and Public Radio. The latest appropriation combines Public TV and Public Radio and is only for one year. This creates an uncertain funding future with a small time frame for dealing with funding level changes. Members of the D/I Committee is currently surveying stations for feedback about the proposal. Results of the survey will be presented to the full D/I committee. If the D/I Committee goes forward with the recommendation it will potentially be presented to the NPR Board at its February Meeting. Several PRIMA board members expressed a desire that, if adopted, the fee changes be phased in to give stations time to adjust their budgets for the increase.

2017 NPR Program Pricing

Tim Eby and Mike Savage reported on potential changes in the NPR program pricing model. NPR has been aware that the current Listener Hour fee model is problematic, but no immediate change is expected. More exploration of viable fee alternatives is needed. The current impetus to change the funding model and raise fees for programming is based on projected deficits for NPR’s budget. NPR is projecting a potential $4 million deficit in the next fiscal year, based on a shrinking audience and increasing labor costs. Further decline in NPR audience is anticipated in the years ahead due to various factors. Mike indicated that NPR’s underwriting and major gift efforts are going well, but NPR needs to leverage the NPR brand to create new income streams. For now, NPR is working to contain costs and looking to NPR stations to fill the budgetary gaps through increases in program fees. Discussion of revising the fee model are expected to take place at the NPR Board meeting in February.

PRIMA Conference

Paul Maassen reported that the spring PRIMA conference has been set for April 28-29. Preliminary plans travel on Wednesday and attend an opening PRIMA Suite Reception on the evening of April 27. A full day of meetings on Thursday, April 28th, followed by a dinner/special event. A half day of meetings on Friday, April 29th concluding with a box lunch at noon, leaving time for participants to travel back home Friday afternoon/evening. The hotel will be the Hilton Downtown, Indianapolis and the conference meetings will be held at WFYI. Bus transportation will be provided between the hotel and WFYI. Paul is working with Roger Rhodes from the Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations group and Richard Miles at WFYI on logistics.

PRIMA Conference Agenda

Dan Skinner lead a discussion about content for the PRIMA Conference. Dan reported that NPR’s Gemma Hooley received positive feedback from NPR participants regarding last spring’s PRIMA conference and they are eager to attend this year’s conference. The PRIMA board expressed interest in inviting a number of NPR staff members to our next conference. Other topics suggested for the conference included an FCC rules session; a connected car session; a philanthropy session; and a session involving NPR, PRI, APM, and PRX in a discussion about reaching new audiences.

FCC Update

Steve Schram reported that the FCC is proceeding with the adoption new ownership reporting forms for both broadcast stations. This will involve providing more detailed information about the members of the station’s owners and/or governing boards.

PRIMA Secretary Update

With the resignation of PRIMA’s secretary, the position is currently open. According to the PRIMA By-Laws the PRIMA Board will appoint a new secretary to fill the position until the next annual meeting when the secretary position can be put to a vote. At the direction of the Board, Paul Maassen has approached a PRIMA member to fill the position. The member is considering the offer to serve.

Meeting Adjourned at 3:45 pm ET

Respectfully submitted,
Dan Skinner
President (Acting as Secretary)

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