PBS donations keep on coming

Despite a national recession that reduced personal and corporate giving, donations to the Public Broadcasting Service grew by 13.7% last year, thanks to a larger number of contributors, according to a PBS report released yesterday.

In all, nearly $ 301 million in public and private funding went to PBS programs during fiscal ’92.

Corporate funding, PBS’ largest support group, jumped 22% during the year to $ 89.5 million. PBS derives 29% of its annual funding from corporate sources. Some 26 companies kicked in more than $ 1 million during the year, up from just 18 the year before.

Amoco Corp., Baxter Healthcare Corp., The Body Shop, Canon USA, Nabisco, Panasonic Industrial Corp., Unisys Corp. and Xerox were first-time givers of more than $ 1 million.

Public television stations make up the second largest chunk of PBS funding, representing 28.1% of PBS budget. Stations provided $ 84.6 million, although that figure represents a drop of 5%.

“Public television’s unique program services begin with a broad funding arrangement involving hundreds of corporations, foundations, government agencies , producers and local public TV stations, plus contributions from more than 5 million viewers,” said PBS president Bruce Christensen.

Producers and co-production funding jumped 115.7% in 1992 to $ 47.6 million while the Corporation for Pubic Broadcasting accounted for $ 37.7 million, up 0. 6% from the year before. Private foundation funding dropped 19.8% during the year to $ 19.3 million, with federal and state agencies increasing their donations by 55% to $ 18.6 million.

During its portion of the TV critics tour in Los Angeles, PBS executives said they were encouraged by the service’s marginal ratings growth in prime time and one-third increase in viewership among pre-school children with shows like “Lamb Chop’s Play-Along” and “Shining Time Station.”

PBS also announced several new shows, including a five-part, 10-hour series on the lingering effects of World War II and a two-hour docudrama based on former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s book “The August Coup.” Gorbachev will be involved with the project.

Other new CPB projects include a jazz series from RHI Entertainment; “Let Freedom Ring,” a special marking the 30th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr.-led march on Washington; a new children’s series, “What’s the Big Idea?”; a series on parenting; and two projects on people with disabilities: “Look Who’s Laughing,” about disabled stand-up comics, and “Beyond Affliction.”

The projects were outlined at PBS’ press tour, which opened with a presentation to children’s host Fred Rogers recognizing the 25th anniversary of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood.”

Rogers, during a Q&A session, conceded that he didn’t watch TV much, but thought that most shows aimed at kids weren’t in their best interests. Asked what shows he watches, Rogers cited “I’ll Fly Away,””Doogie Howser, M.D.” and occasionally “Murphy Brown.”

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