"Move from a mentality of broadcasting, move to a mentality of media," Larry Irving, President of the Irving Information Group, urged participants at Beyond Broadcast’s closing keynote address.
As part of this transition, Irving made a case for public broadcasters to avoid commercial alliances and appeal to a broader demographic.
"When I read about [PBS adding content to] Hulu.com, I read it with dread," he said.
"Generally people have an agenda when they give you money. It is a very slippery slope," Irving said. "If we start letting commercial dictates get in front, we’re going to have a problem as a nation."
Pointing out that ad dollars are lower on commercial programming aimed at black and Hispanic viewers, Irving said, "The reality is that some of our nation is valued more than others."
"Public broadcasting needs to think about what’s happening in this nation," he said, pointing out that the average age of a PBS viewer is 46, while the median age of Hispanic males in this country is 24. "This nation is undergoing a profound demographic change that public broadcasting does not reflect in any manner."
This change is reflected in Congress as well, and questions will be asked about relevance. "You’re going to see a lot more chairmen of committees who look like me," Irving said.
"When public broadcasting comes up for reauthorization next year