Too soon to tell, Kerger replied.
“We periodically go through periods where our funding has been at risk,” she noted, after announcing she had lost a bet that this would be the first question she took during her Q&A — it was not.
“I’ve been in this work for a long time, both in 11 years at PBS and before that, in public broadcasting,” the well-respected public TV exec reminded.
And, she and previous PBS execs have answered at TCA gatherings those other times funding seemed at risk, Kerger insisted federal money represents only about 15% of public television funding in total, most goes directly to member stations, and in Alaska and other rural areas it can rep as much as 50% of the stations’ funds.
Local public broadcasting station now are reaching out to legislators on both sides of the aisle, to tell them how the funding is used and explain its value, she said, saying “We fight very hard for that 15%.” She also did some pitching of her own, via the various media outlets covering her Q&A, saying the funds average out to about $1.35 per person, pointing to this being the 50th anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act, and highlighting the service’s educational programming for children.
“Stay tuned,” said Kerger, has opened her remarks paying tribute to late PBS NewsHour co-host/Washington Week moderator Gwen Ifill, who died in November.
Another TV reporter asked if, in this “post-fact world” since the presidential election, PBS had seen an increase in the amount of money it was raising from private individuals and said she hopes they will continue to see strong support from individuals in this era which, she said, she had every reason to believe would be the case.