KPBS, the public broadcasting operation run by San Diego State University, is out with its financial report for the 12 months ending in June of last year, and it reveals that cash dedicated to actual programming has continued a years-long downward spiral. In fiscal year 2006, the TV channel and radio station spent $11.3 million for programming and production. In 2007, that number was down to $10.5 million. And last year it fell to $9.26 million, according to the report. On the other hand, “fundraising and membership development” costs continued to rise, from $5.8 million in 2006, to $7.17 million in 2007, and $7.18 million in 2008. Despite all the money devoted to fund-raising, contributions to the stations fell slightly, from $15,840,847 in 2007 to $15,769,646 in 2008. Taxpayer contributions, in the form of “direct financial support” from SDSU, rose from $2,445,629 to $2,651,918. So-called indirect SDSU support dropped slightly, from $5,615,682 to $5,336,242.
SDSU president Stephen Weber, who has frequently meddled with management in the past, is still looking for a compatible replacement for retired general manager Doug Myrland, whose former salary was $218,004. While the search continues, Myrland is getting $75,000 in addition to a generous state pension to advise the operation for another year. Critics say Myrland was far too accommodative of Weber and the downtown establishment. They argue that the stations would be better run by an independent nonprofit group less beholden to the university’s highly politicized fund-raising base of wealthy real estate developers and downtown business types. Draconian cuts in the state budget may force the issue later this year.