Friday, June 03, 2011
NPR is telling stations its proposed mandatory digital service could bring in as much as $50 million in new revenues five years from now. The revenue floor is projected at $15 million annually.
Now $50 million is a lot of money, but it is not as much as you might think.
Currently, public radio stations bring in around $500,000 million dollars in listener-sensitive income. That's listener donations and underwriting.
So NPR believes that new digital revenues will be somewhere 3% to 10% of what stations currently raise from their communities.
If you add in public radio's tax-based funding, foundation support, and other income, then the $50 million per year in new digital revenues is just 5.5% of all public radio revenues.
All of a sudden, $50 million isn't so much especially if digital audiences and revenues are supposed to replace current revenues as audiences disperse to web-based listening.
$50 million is basically growing the current annual listener-sensitive revenues by two percent per year over the next five years. That's assuming things go really well and the majority of stations buy in to the plan. And for this the NPR Board wants to impose a mandatory tax on stations.
Nationally, $50 million annually is small thinking. Really small thinking. Stations deserve better than this.