The Washington Post - Public broadcasters rely on various streams of revenue to pay for news-gathering activities, administrative overhead, broadcasting facilities, fundraising costs and so on. Such streams include membership contribution, underwriting revenue and state and federal funding.
How quickly has the coronavirus started to strangle public broadcasters? Listen to Paul Hunton, general manager of Texas Tech Public Media, with operations in Lubbock (KTTZ-TV/FM) and El Paso (KCOS-TV). Last Friday, says Hunton, underwriters for programming on his air started announcing their intent to pull out of their deals with the station. By the end of the day, the operation had lost $30,000 in commitments. Now it's $100,000. Underwriters are the public broadcasting version of advertisers; they apprise the audience that they support the programming but cannot issue "calls to action, qualitative language, comparative language, inducements like pricing or sale information."