NPR Network Pledge Drive Proposed; Schiller Says No
March 30, 2009 at 6:12 AM (PT)
NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO has not held a fundraising drive for itself since 1983, leaving the hat-passing to its local affiliates, but the WASHINGTON POST's PAUL FARHI is reporting that the network is considering another direct appeal for funds from listeners, a report that NPR Pres. VIVIAN SCHILLER is reportedly countering with her insistence that no such drive is being considered.
The network is looking at an $8 million deficit and "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED" host MELISSA BLOCH and former "ATC" host and present Special Correspondent SUSAN STAMBERG proposed a pledge drive to SCHILLER last week.
STAMBERG told FARHI that the network raised $1 million in a 1983 "Drive to Survive" fundraiser with about a quarter of the audience NPR reaches today. A drive would require the network to waive or change rules in place that presently forbid direct fundraising activities and would also require the FCC to waive prohibitions on stations raising funds on NPR's behalf, which the Commission has done in the past to help stations losing their transmission facilities on 9/11 and to Hurricane KATRINA.
But DCRTV.COM has posted a memo from SCHILLER to stations denying that she plans any national pledge drive, telling stations that "We did not plant this story. We did not want this story. And we have no plans whatsoever to launch a national giving campaign on behalf of NPR. On the contrary, we recognize that many of you are suffering your own deep economic hardship which is why we’re working on several fronts to bring more money to YOU thru online fundraising on npr.org, a supplemental spending request to Congress and in other ways.
"A couple of stations have reached out to ask how they can help – via fundraising in their community or otherwise. While I’m deeply appreciative and welcome any support they choose to give us, I’m not expecting the station community to solve NPR’s deficit in this manner. The best thing you can do for NPR is to keep your station economy healthy so you can continue to run our programming alongside your own. NPR’s path to a balanced budget will come from renewed efforts and creativity in the areas of sponsorship, underwriting, major giving and grants, so I thank you in advance for your help with those efforts."