Public Broadcasting & Paid Membership: A Pilot Study to Assess the WNED Buffalo-Toronto Dilemma
thesisposted on 22.05.2021, 10:10 by Andrea-Jo Wilson
Using mutually-reinforcing components, this pilot study seeks to identify the barriers that are preventing viewers of WNED Buffalo-Toronto, a public broadcaster, from becoming paid members. A review of literature considers the changing nature of membership, the success of televangelism, and PBS’s own experience with paid membership. Drawing on organizational commitment theory, and the notional categories of membership developed by Gruen, Summers & Acito (2000), this study analyzes both the external communications documents produced by WNED and feedback from Canadian viewers, both members and non-members. From these results, the study makes three preliminary recommendations. It suggests that WNED take steps to increase the amount of coproduction implied in membership, that it begin investing in Web 2.0 to better leverage its content and foster brand communities, and that it augment membership with crowdfunding initiatives. The study concludes with the suggestion that membership is changing and that more relational models may be more attractive to viewers.