Skip to content

August 8, 2020


Where Does $100 to PBS Go?

by Anne Paddock

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) television program distributer and broadcaster of educational television content (about 1,500 hours in 2018) through its 153 member public television licensees.

PBS is funded primarily from membership dues and contributions, gifts, and grants. The following information is noteworthy:

In 2018, PBS reported total revenue of $539 million. However, $178 million were non-cash contributions of donated broadcast rights which means total cash revenue was $361 million from:

  • $198 million of which came from membership dues
  • $100 million from contributions, gifts, and grants
  • $ 38 million from Program Revenue, Subsidiary Income, and Service Fees
  • $ 25 million from Investment Income, Royalties, and Gains

Total expenses were $495 million. However, $178 million were donated broadcast rights and $136 million was depreciation, meaning cash expenses were $181 million (50% of cash revenue), categorized as follows:

  • $ 76 million (21% of cash revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 35 million (10% of cash revenue):  Fees for Services
  • $ 19 million (5% of cash revenue):  Program Rights, Communications, and Royalties
  • $ 18 million (5% of cash revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 17 million (5% of cash revenue):  Advertising and Promotion
  • $ 10 million (3% of cash revenue):  Grants
  • $  6 million (2% of cash revenue):  Travel and Conferences

As illustrated above, the largest expense was compensation ($76 million) for the 591 employees who received an average compensation of $129,000. Fees for services were primarily fees paid to outside entities. No detail was provided.

Using the above information, every $100 in cash revenue was spent as follows:

 $100:  Revenue

-$ 21:  Compensation

-$ 10:  Fees for Services

-$  5:  Program Rights, Communications, and Royalties

-$  5:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  5:  Advertising and Promotion

-$  2:  Travel and Conferences

-$ 48:  Subtotal: Organization Expenses

 $ 52:  Revenue Remaining

$  3:  Grants

$ 49:  Revenue Remaining

PBS used about half of the cash donations to pay for organization expenses.  Excess revenue was added to the general fund, which had nearly $400 million at year-end.

As illustrated above, PBS spends significantly less than they raised.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017 for the year ending June 30, 2018), click here.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Robert Woods
    Aug 8 2020

    CEO ..salary and compensation ?? Tganks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: