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Five sucessful collaborations - Fuerst and Tait for 2017 PMBA


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Five sucessful collaborations - Fuerst and Tait for 2017 PMBA

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Fuerst and Tait analyzed and drew lessons from five major collaborations that took place within the public broadcasting system over a ten year period. Their case examples included (1) the merger of three stations into Louisville Public Media; (2) the reorganization and consolidation of WVIZ and WCPN into ideastream in Cleveland, OH; (3) the merger of the Dayton,OH and Cincinnati, OH Public TV stations in to CET/ThinkTV; (4) the successful reorganization of New Hampshire Public TV after that network was hit with quick and deep state funding cuts in 2011; and (5) the development of a multi-station production collaboration, EarthFix, based at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, OR.

Fuerst and Tait analyzed and drew lessons from five major collaborations that took place within the public broadcasting system over a ten year period. Their case examples included (1) the merger of three stations into Louisville Public Media; (2) the reorganization and consolidation of WVIZ and WCPN into ideastream in Cleveland, OH; (3) the merger of the Dayton,OH and Cincinnati, OH Public TV stations in to CET/ThinkTV; (4) the successful reorganization of New Hampshire Public TV after that network was hit with quick and deep state funding cuts in 2011; and (5) the development of a multi-station production collaboration, EarthFix, based at Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, OR.


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Five sucessful collaborations - Fuerst and Tait for 2017 PMBA

  1. 1. Five Successful Collaborations Mark Fuerst, Director, Public Media Futures Forums Richard Tait, Principal, RH Tait Associates, Inc. What motivated the change? What happened? What lessons can we learn?
  2. 2. How we got here • Public Media Futures Forum started in 2012 • Thank you to PMBA for providing this venue • Thank you to CPB for providing AFR data • Thank you to our colleagues who helped us develop our cases.
  3. 3. • Started with NHPTV and CoastAlaska • Expanded after contact with PMBA – Selected 4 other “collaborations that worked” • Chose 5 to present in-depth at this conference Our Process
  4. 4. • Overview and Summary of Lessons • Cases 1 and 2 • Conversation/Q&A • Break Our Agenda for today
  5. 5. • Overview and Summary of Lessons • Cases 3 and 4 • Conversation/Q&A • Case 5 • Summary /Conclusion Our Agenda for today (contd.)
  6. 6. • Analyzed publically available news, press releases— especially coverage in Current. • Interviewed one or more key leaders at each station. • Reviewed and analyzed station annual reports and CPB Annual Financial Reports Our Process
  7. 7. • Due to time and resource constraints, we did not get a complete picture of each case. • Other participants may have—probably do have— different interpretations of events. • This is not “a comprehensive study of collaborations.” Our Lessons and conclusions apply to just these cases. Limitations on Our Process….
  8. 8. Merriam-Webster Collaborate: to work with another person or group in order to achieve or do something About Collaborations Collaboration is complex: a spectrum of organizational forms. For pubcasters, collaboration is “invisible in plain sight.” Our case examples range from “all-in” to “shared service.” Station collaborations are a major CPB priority – since 1996 they have invested upwards of $70 MM across a wide range of grant programs
  10. 10. Joint Master Control Contributor Development Partnership NETA Business Service PBS/NPR Digital Svc
  11. 11. Many stations have problems. Only a few launch collaborations. Why? Can we identify a set of conditions that often combine to motivate a change effort?
  12. 12. The Action Equation Conditions that often provide a foundation for change * NS Clear Next Steps that move toward improvement * V A motivating shared Vision D Dissatisfaction with the Status Quo Action =
  13. 13. What other factors are driving collaboration? In our cases we found five “key drivers” that can be grouped into two large categories: Crises of Sustainability and Crises of Opportunity.
  14. 14. • Erosion of the Legacy Business Model (Increased competition; loss of audience-based revenues) • Cuts or Threats to Tax Support • “Irrational” service contours (Need to reduce service duplication) • Need to “Be More Local” – Enhancing local impact – Positioning as a major local civic institution • Deterioration of local/regional news 5 Key Drivers of Change Crises of Sustainability Crises of Opportunity
  15. 15. How these drivers apply? Crisis of Sustainability Crisis of Opportunity Business Model Erosion Cuts/threat toTax Support Rationalize Service Contours "BeMore Local" FillGapsin LocalNews Ideastream x x x Louisville x x x x CET/ThinkTV x x x x NHPTV x x x x EarthFix x x Coast Alaska x x x
  16. 16. • In every case leadership mattered. • Action often followed a “triggering event.” • The process often grinds slowly. • Change was more often motivated by a “service vision.” (vs. efficiency) • Governance issues facilitated/inhibited consolidation. • Outside funders often played a key role: motivating, lubricating the gears, reducing financial anxiety. • Retaining independence of identity and differentiation of service was a key driver in every case we studied What did we learn? The narrow view (these five cases)
  17. 17. In every case, the senior staff told us: “We would not be able to do what we are doing today if we had not changed.” The most important lesson
  18. 18. Ideastream The ideastream portfolio includes: 3 stations, cable channels, a state news bureau, “Ohio Channel,” state-wide education services and an innovative community engagement effort. Louisville Public Media Consolidate 3 full-power FMs. Eliminated service duplication. Center for Investigative. News. 10 fold revenue growth, with class-leading “full-market” underwriting strategy. CET/ThinkTV Three full-power broadcast channels, thirteen 24/7 local cable channels, eliminated service duplication, reversed chronic financial deficits, retained distinctive service within each market. NHPTV/ WGBH Absorbed $2.8 million cut in state support. Restored local productions. Became primary PBS service for NH. Reduced service overlap. Saved $250,000/yr in engineering exp. Regained lost member file & member revenue. Expanded development capacity through CDP. EarthFix (OPB) Built on Northwest News Network to expand regional partnership. Public media leader in environmental news. Leading multiple Local Journalism Centers to expand video news output. Coast Alaska Absorbed deep state cuts. Consolidated financial management and development activity. Redirected resources to local news/information. Retained central role in civic and cultural life. They changed. What did they gain?
  19. 19. Background • WFPL begins broadcasting in 1950. WFPK in 1954. Both owned and operated by the Free Library of Louisville (and this by the City of Louisville). • WUOL begins broadcasting in 1976 as all-classical when commercial WHAS changes format and gives equipment and record collection to University of Louisville. • 1985 Gerry Weston becomes GM of WFPL/WFPK. • By 1990, all the stations are relatively small. Only one station, qualifies for a Community Service Grant. • Even by the mid-90’s total revenues under $600,000
  20. 20. • Election-day loss in 1991: The Library fails to win a referendum that would establish a special tax district. • Head Librarian opens talks with Kentucky Center for the Arts. …. • Later, an offer of $400,000 from the Kresege Foundation for new facilities—but only after a full consolidation of the three broadcast licenses LPM: Triggering events
  21. 21. LPM: The process 1991 Talks begin 1992 KY Center for the Arts leaves talks. Univ. of Louisville enters. 1993 Founding of Kentucky Public Radio, dba Public Radio Partnership (PRP). Weston becomes President. Library, U of L keep the licenses. 1995 PRP begins a capital campaign for new facilities 1996 Launch 3-part service: News (WFPL), Classical (WUOL), AAA/Jazz (WFPK) 1998-99 PRP obtains all 3 licenses. 2000 begins operation in new downtown studios 1997 PRP purchases an option on historic downtown building The Building burns. City agrees to contribute $1.3 million in insurance. 1998 Kresge Foundation offers $400,000 challenge grant—contingent on transfer of all licenses to PRP Pace? Slow. Nine years of negotiation & organizational development Lesson: Persevere… Change efforts take time. (Sometimes a decade.)
  22. 22. LPM: Outcomes 0.6 4.3 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 1998 2002 2006 2010 2014 Millions LPM Total Direct Revenues unadjusted as reported to CPB in Annual Financial Reports With the addition of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Journalism, LPM direct revenues reached $6.5 MM in 2015.
  23. 23. • Working within city government and University bureaucracies • Complex reporting relationships: split reporting to Library/City, U of Louisville, and a new 501 (c) (3). • Reluctance to cede ownership of valuable broadcasting properties • Need to demonstrate sustainability. (Overcome through growth in membership and underwriting.) • Change fatigue: staff would often ask “When is this really going to happen?” LPM: Challenges
  24. 24. LPM: Outcomes 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 1998 2002 2006 2010 2014 Millions Underwriting as reported to CPB in Annual Financial Reports TotalUnderwriting Underwriting as % of Total Rev Corporate Support Dir. Gray Smith positioned LPM as a “super-station,” with effective access to three segments (news, AAA, and classical) of Louisville's well-educated audience.
  25. 25. LPM: Outcomes • 10 fold revenue growth • A “major civic institution” in the heart of Louisville • A primary source of news and information for Louisville • Broad audience: news, classical, AAA and jazz • “Super station” strategy attracts outsized underwriting • Key player in developing regional news service • Base for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting • Now leading increased state-wide collaboration Financial results were strong, but the most powerful theme was expanded, sustainable local service.
  26. 26. • D: We found dissatisfaction with the financial capability of the Library and the weak position of public radio in Louisville. • V: Early discussions identified the potential of three stations working together, consolidated under one board. • NS: Form a new 501 (c) (3) with Weston as President. Reduce program duplication. Build new studios in the heart of the city. (Service vision was not initially shared by all the players) LPM: Illustrates “the Action Equation” D * V * NSAction =
  27. 27. • Leadership mattered. • Change stimulated by “triggering events.” • The process was very slow. • Change strongly driven by “service vision.” • Governance both helped and hindered. Library was often supportive. University was often reluctant. • Kresge (a funder) played a key role in consolidating license ownership. What did we learn from LPM?
  29. 29. • An impromptu meeting between WVIZ GM (Jerry Wareham) and WCPN GM (Kit Jensen) • Concurrence of vision between these two station leaders. Ideastream: The triggering event
  30. 30. ideastream : The process 1996 Wareham and Jensen have impromptu meeting at George Gund Foundation 1997 Initial program collaboration: “My Land, Your Land” on urban sprawl. 1998 joint station task force begins facilitated meetings . 2013 ideastream incorporates Civic Commons into operations 2001 Ideastream incorporated, combines WVIZ and WCPN…. links with WCLV 2002 Ideastream assumes management of Ohio Government Telecommunication and The Ohio Channel. Jan 2000 Task Force recommends merger. Negotiations continue for 20 months. Agreement announced in Oct 2001. 2002 Ideastream assumes management of Statehouse News Bureau. 2004 Ideastream assumes management of Northwest Ohio Technology Association and SMART Consortium. 2013 WCLV is fully merged into ideastream, as non-comm. Pace? Moderate: Three years from start of serious talks to full merger. Lesson: A strong collaboration can be the foundation for major service growth. 2001 Launch “Listening Project” – contact almost 8,000 citizens
  31. 31. • Reconciling differences in Board outlook on CEO and “power sharing” at Board level • Selling the vision to the staff • Implement $27 million capital campaign for new facilities ideastream: Major challenges
  32. 32. • Three broadcast services: WVIZ-TV , WCPN-FM (news), WCLV-FM (classical ) • Statehouse News Bureau – Reports on state-level legislation and issues. ideastream manages this service for the partner stations. Journalists based in Columbus. • Ohio Government Telecommunications (OGT) and the Ohio Channel – provides video/audio coverage of legislative sessions and hearings, coverage of the Ohio Supreme Court. Serves all Ohio Pubcast stations. • North Ohio Technology Association (NOTA) – broadband interactive video distance learning network for K-12. State-funded service managed by ideastream on behalf of member school districts. • SMART Consortium (Science and math Achievement Required for Tomorrow) – Professional development program aimed at teachers to improve state-wide science and math instruction. • Civic Commons – A multiple media community engagement program created in 2010 with a Knight Foundation grant. ideastream : The outcomes 8 major telecom services
  33. 33. ideastream : Outcome (Substantial revenue growth, partly through adoption of new services.) 0.0 10.0 20.0 30.0 40.0 50.0 2001 2004 2007 2010 2013 Millions Total Direct Revenue for WCPN/WVIZ Combined (data from licensee CPB Annual Financial Reports)
  34. 34. • D: Wareham and Jensen sense “we could do so much more.” • V: The ideastream leadership embraced a highly motivating vision of community-focused service, later informed by the Listening Project. • NS: Consensus developed around white paper authored by Wareham and Jensen. ideastream: Illustrates “the Action Equation” D * V * NSAction =
  35. 35. • Leadership—and relationships—mattered. Wareham and Jensen were key. Their shared vision shaped the process. • In this case: no single “triggering event.” • The process was steady. • Change was strongly driven by “service vision.” • Strong boards on both sides and well-led negotiations was a critical component. • Local foundations played a key role. What did we learn from ideastream?
  36. 36. Taped Conversation with Jerry Wareham CEO – ideastream
  37. 37. Networking Break We Resume at 10:30
  38. 38. • Overview and Summary of Lessons • Cases 3 and 4 • Conversation/Q&A • Case 5 • Summary /Conclusion Our Agenda for today (contd.)
  39. 39. • The CET/ThinkTV case combines our two crisis categories: sustainability and opportunity. The discussions that led to the consolidation were prompted by – Disagreements on the placement of digital transmission facilities in the Cincinnati market, – Cable carriage issues, – Reoccurring financial challenges at CET and – Significant changes in the economy of the Dayton market. CET/ThinkTV: Triggering event
  40. 40. CET/ThinkTV: Process 1970s – Occasional talk of collaboration/consolidation, largely due to signal overlap 1990s – Talks start and end, reflecting changes in Board and station leadership 2007 – New round begins with informal visits by Board members from both sides Late 2007 – Phase Two Committee: 5 Board members/side + CEOs + David Brugger Sept 2008 – Committee recommends merger Fogarty leads the follow-on negotiations,” with agreement in May ‘09 July 1, 2009 – PMC, the “new holding company” is launched Fall 2008 – Each Board adopts a merger resolution. Announced Oct 31. Extended process selects CEO, David Fogarty (from ThinkTV) Pace? Slow then Fast: Two years of negotiation once the process gets serious Early 2007 – Phase One Committee: 2 Board members from each side + CEOs. Lesson: Effective board level action is critical to the success of major collaborations.
  41. 41. • Historic rivalries with service overlap in Cincinnati • Distinct—and different—communities, just 50 miles apart • Two CEOs, each with a distinct vision for combined service • Deteriorating financials entering the Great Recession • Midwest, post-industrial cities, with modest historic wealth CET/ThinkTV: Challenges Brugger: “Projections for the non-merged organizations indicated continuing difficulties in funding operations, further reductions in staff... and continuing pressures for capital equipment investment."
  42. 42. CET/ThinkTV: Reorganization (New) Public Media Connect Board CET Board ThinkTV Board CEO Combined Staffs at Both Stations CET Community Advisory Board ThinkTV Community Advisory Board Public Media Connect (PMC) is a “holding company.” It operates stations in both markets with combined staffs—but with great attention to the distinct needs of each community. Board members and officers are on all three board: the two licensees and the holding company.
  43. 43. CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes The reorganization reduced Engineering and Broadcast Exp by more than $1.5 million. 0.0 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 5.0 2006 2010 2014 Millions Combined ThinkTV/CET Engineering/Broadcasting Expenses (Unadjusted as reported on licensee AFRs)
  44. 44. CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes The reorganization drove down cost per dollar raised from 68 cents to 49 cents. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 2006 2009 2012 Millions Combined ThinkTV/CET "FundRaising and Membership" Expenses (Unadjusted as reported on licensee AFRs) Individual Giving for Operations FundRaising and Membership Exp Cost per $ raised
  45. 45. CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes 6.0 7.0 8.0 9.0 10.0 11.0 12.0 13.0 14.0 15.0 FY 09 Pre-merger FY 10 Post-merger FY 11 FY 12 FY 13 FY 14 FY 15 Millions Operating Revenues and Expenses for CET/ThinkTV Total Op Support and Revenue Total Op Expenses The reorganization ended the chronic operating deficits.
  46. 46. CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes The reorganized company now provides 13 channels of broadcast and cable service. Individual giving cost per dollar raised fell: from 68 cents to 49 cents. Three channels based at WCET
  47. 47. CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes 10 channels based at WPTD/WPTO
  48. 48. • Greater Service • Financial Stability • Continued differentiation of service to each market • Facilities in both Dayton and Cincinnati city centers CET/ThinkTV: Outcomes …Preservation of distinct service, tailored to the needs of each community, remains a fundamental commitment by the Board, and the stations remain important assets for the consolidated organization. David Fogarty, CEO
  49. 49. • Leadership mattered. • The “triggering event” can evolve slowly. • Process was very slow (on again/off again for years), but when it started for real, it moved swiftly. • Change was driven by a mix of “crisis of sustainability” and “crisis of opportunity.” • Governance generally facilitated the change, but the organizational structure was complex. • Preservation of the CPB grants played a role. What did we learn from CET/ThinkTV?
  50. 50. • D: Signal overlap and some inter-station friction combine with deteriorating financials, encouraging staff and board to ask: “why are we working this way?” • V: Susan Howarth and David Fogarty had strong—but different– service visions. The CEO selection process pushed each of them to articulate their view and build board support. • NS: The Phase One and Phase Two committee work identified a clear path for change. CET/ThinkTV: Illustrates “the Action Equation” D * V * NSAction =
  51. 51. • In Jan 2011 State Sen. Steve Vaillancourt proposes to eliminate state Public TV funding. – NHPTV contacts with legislators fails to change direction. • State budget—with “zero-out” of NHPTV funding— passes in June 2011. Signed by Governor. ……………………….. • Silverman Report points to “large-scale” service collaboration (vs. merger) with WGBH as pathforward NHPTV: Triggering events
  52. 52. NHPTV faces several key broadcasting challenges. Population is concentrated in the southeast, where the media environment is dominated by Boston. The northern part, which borders on Canada, is rural and lightly populated.
  53. 53. Population distribution in Boston/NH Market
  54. 54. NHPTV: Process Jan 2011 Vaillancourt proposes cut off of state funding to NHPTV CPB retains Silverman Consulting. The “Silverman Report” guides key steps. NHPTV, recognizing the inevitable loss of funding, cuts 20 FTEs and salaries of remaining staff. Key local productions are eliminated or reduced. Summer 2011 – Talks start. Develop framework. There will be no merger. Implementation of the agreement took 10 months (or longer) CPB Provides $750,000 to each side split into three equal installments: paid in FY13, 14, 15. Final agreement emerges in August 2012: Guided by Silverman Report, NHPTV chooses “large scale collaboration” with WGBH for long-term pathforward. Lesson: The detailed planning guidance in the “Silverman Report” was key to rapid response. Pace? Fast. One year of negotiation. Ten months+ of implementation.
  55. 55. • Prepare NHPTV for long-term sustainability, with a service focus on New Hampshire; • Preserve/enhance NHPTV’s broadcast schedule; • Cut costs, increase productivity and improve the effectiveness of NHPTV’s fundraising; and • Preserve/expand NH local productions, educational service and community outreach. • "Rationalize public television service" in northeast Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, and • Divide member support by region (in Massachusetts to WGBH, in New Hampshire to NHPTV). NHPTV: Guiding principals for negotiation
  56. 56. Comcast in Boston/NH Market
  57. 57. Current Cable/Broadcast reach of NHPTV
  58. 58. • Move quickly. Cuts and one-time fundraising provided about one year for resolution. • Enormous financial adjustment surfaced very quickly. State cuts were $2.8MM out of $8.8 MM budget. • Large staff cuts. • Overcome historic inter-market rivalry. • Desire to preserve NH-based decision-making and production capacity. NHPTV: Major challenges
  59. 59. • NHPTV will continue as independent licensee. • NHPTV will purchase five years of backroom service spanning (1) master control, (2) engineering and traffic, (3) finance/accounting, (4) membership, (5) programming, (6) creative services. • “Rationalize” service in NE MA and Southern NH • NHPTV/WGBH divide membership solicitation • Position NPTV as the primary PBS service for all of New Hampshire NHPTV: The Agreement
  60. 60. • Total budget has been reduced by 30%--but almost all programming and service has been restored. • Net member revenue has returned to pre-crisis levels. – Member files are still down – Member fund raising costs are also down, so NET is up • Engineering operating costs cut by $300,000/yr and capital set aside costs of $250,000/yr avoided • Management attention freed up to focus on local service, community engagement. • Change “…saved us from a very dreary future.” NHPTV: Outcomes
  61. 61. • Leadership mattered. • Change followed a “triggering event.” • Process was rapid and intense -- with some glitches. • Change was driven by “service preservation.” • Governance issues facilitated… already on way to independence of University of NH. • CPB played a key role with Silverman Report and follow-up funding. What did we learn from NHPTV?
  62. 62. • D: Debilitating revenue cut. • V: Silverman Report provides options. Collaborate, but don’t merge. Preserve local control. • NS: Silverman Report made recommendations on managing the short-term revenue loss. NHPTV: Illustrates “the Action Equation” D * V * NSAction =
  63. 63. Conversation with CPB Representative Q&A
  64. 64. Local/Regional Content Partnerships “When I was interviewing with the OPB Board in the summer of 2005 I told them that I saw OPB’s future mission as being much more about content than the broadcast distribution of content via television and radio. The Board and I shared a view that OPB’s future was rooted in our ability to cover, create, curate and share stories that matter to Oregonians.” Steve Bass, CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting N. B: In informal conversations some OPB staff put it this way: by hiring Bass, the OPB board was “putting the ‘Oregon’ back in Oregon Public Broadcasting.”
  65. 65. EarthFix: Triggering events • Steve Bass named CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting • CPB issues RFP for station collaborations focused on content creation on a single news topic of strong local interest – Local Journalism enters (LJC’s)
  66. 66. EarthFix: Process 2006 Steve Bass takes over as CEO of OPB 2009 CPB issues RFP for station collaborations focused on content creation on a single news topic of strong local interest – Local Journalism Centers (LJC’s) 2010 OPB-led collaboration awarded $1.4 million grant for regional environmental reporting. Partners include four N3 stations. Lesson: Collaborative relationships require high “emotional intelligence” and lots of attention 1991 Northwest News Network (N3) forms – restructures with CPB funding in 2003. 2014 Two founding EarthFix stations drop out. Two new stations join. 2014-2015 Three continuing partner stations get new GM’s. 2015 CPB awards EarthFix $350K grant for new video production unit. 2011 EarthFix fully staffed and operational across multiple platforms. Pace? Fast. But long history of N3 collaboration provided the foundation for success
  67. 67. • Getting multiple stations to formally sign-on • Establishing – and maintaining – an effective collaboration governance structure – not too formal; sufficiently structured for effective oversight • Managing the transition to full station-based funding after end of CPB grant • Sustaining the partnership through changes in multiple station GM’s – encourage them to pay attention to an activity that is a small part of budget. EarthFix: Major challenges
  68. 68. • Met key start-up goals on budget and on schedule. • EarthFix transitioned successfully to station-based funding after initial CPB grant ended in 2013. • EarthFix identified by CPB consultant in 2012 as one of two LJC’s having “most success with collaboration.” – OPB selected to coordinate 2015 CPB video production grants to five LJCs. • EarthFix and its staff nominated-for/receive several broadcasting awards EarthFix : Outcomes
  69. 69. • D: Crisis of Opportunity. LJCs offered affordable method of expanding regional journalism. Environmental issues well suited to Northwest. • V: Replicating the collaborative-production value of Northwest News Network. • NS: Secure LJC funding from CPB. Well-structured staffing and start-up processes provided well understood path to implementation. EarthFix: Illustrates “the Action Equation” D * V * NSAction =
  70. 70. • Leadership—and relationships—mattered. • CPB funding provided “triggering event” (LJC grants) • The process was very fairly rapid. • Change strongly driven by “service vision.” • Governance both facilitated process. Experience with N3 laid the foundation. • CPB grants played a major role. What did we learn from EarthFix?
  71. 71. • Richard Tait RH Tait Associates, Inc • Mark Fuerst Innovation4Media, Inc. Contact us