Posted by Gretchen Tegeler
Jackie Norris led the prayer and pledges.  She reflected on a recent church sermon asking,”How much is enough?” She went on to say that despite political differences, we all share certain values.  She led a moment of silence for those killed by gun violence just in the past year, including 1,248 children. 
 
New member John Lee was introduced.
 
Rotarian Susan Moritz Scharnberg, President of the Iowa Public Television (IPTV) Foundation, was introduced by Ambassador Mary Kramer.  Susan has been in professional fundraising for more than thirty years, the last 17 with the IPTV Foundation and prior to that with the American Lung Association and Wesley Retirement Services.  She has also served in a leadership capacity at the national level, chairing the national Development Council for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS); serving on the board of the newly created national PBS Foundation; and on the international board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.  Locally she served four terms on the West Des Moines Board of Education and was recently elected to the Scottish Rite Board of Directors.  Ambassador Kramer got to know Susan when she chaired the Foundation board.
 
Susan gave a fascinating presentation about “What’s New in Television.”
 
She began by thanking the many people in the room who have been instrumental in the success of IPTV, including Neil Smith and Dee Vickery.
 
She noted that IPTV is a state agency with a board appointed by the Governor.  The IPTV Foundation is a 501c(3) with a 20-member board and a staff of 16 people raising between $8 and $9 million each year.
What’s new in television?
 
The ways that TV is delivered are changing.  IPTV now has four channel feeds, including one added last December that provides around the clock programming for children.  This is significant because it provides a way for kids to access quality programming without an expensive subscription to cable TV.
 
The ways we watch TV have also changed.  We can watch what we want, when we want it, examples being binge-watching and fast-forwarding through ads.  One-third of programming is now delivered through digital sources such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.  Susan noted that IPTV also has digital streaming – it’s called Passport and you can view online when you wish.
 
Susan noted traditional TV viewing is declining; however PBS viewing is up with 91 percent of Americans watching.
 
The devices used for viewing are also changing.  Now in use are desktop computers, cell phones, i-pads, etc.  Mobile TV is being tested and 3-D TV is much anticipated.
 
What we watch is also changing.  Today, 56 percent of commercial prime time is reality TV! On network TV the line-up includes Big Bang Theory, NBA Basketball, Swamp People, My 600-Pound Life, and Naked and Afraid.  In contrast, just looking at last night and tonight, IPTV offers Iowa Outdoors, Nature, Nova, Iowa Press, Iowa Entrepreneurs, Market to Market and Great Performances.
 
The way TV is funded has changed. Susan noted, “The old Lucky Strike and Hamm’s Beer commercial model is just about gone.”   Audiences are in smaller groups; therefore, ad time is less valuable and can’t support expensive production costs.  This is one of the reasons reality TV has become so prevalent – it is cheaper to produce.  Digital is also cheaper to produce. 
 
Susan noted that the new models include smaller investment targeted advertising and viewer engagement strategies such as online clubs and groups and voting.  Nielson ratings are not as useful anymore because they don’t measure viewership on other platforms.
 
IPTV is funded 50 percent by the State of Iowa, about $2.57 per person per year.  Susan noted this is relatively high compared with other states.  Fifteen percent is from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the rest is donated. 
 
Susan noted that fundraising for IPTV uses many traditional methods, but there is increasing effort to diversity including major gifts, planned giving, neighborhood canvassing and digital fundraising.
 
Some exciting upcoming programs were highlighted:
 
  • The Great American Read – you can vote on-line for favorite; see how many you’ve read
  • PBS Summer of Adventure, including Ten Manmade Marvels that Changed America; Kingdoms of the Sky, a look at life on the mountaintops around the world; and Earth’s Natural Wonders – Life at the Extremes.
  • Let’s go Luna – featuring things like what do kids eat for breakfast in China – social studies and geography rather than STEM
  • Employer’s Mutual Companies (EMC)-sponsored High-School Musical Theatre Awards – for the first time the actual competition will be live-streamed, and then consolidated into a broadcast program later this summer
  • All the great favorites such as Nature, NOVA, American Experience, Great Performances, Masterpiece, Antique Roadshow, and Frontline.  Susan noted that in just the last few months Frontline has featured Labor Trafficking, Child Marriage and The Culture of Complicity in Hollywood.  An expose on football head injuries was instrumental in starting a whole cultural change on the issue. She also said to watch for one about Privacy in the Digital Age.
  • In connection with IPTV’s 50th anniversary, American Experience will run a series about the real story of the moon landing, which also occurred 50 years ago.
  • A new Ken Burns documentary – his 32nd – on country music.
 
In terms of impact, Susan noted that 60 percent of teachers use IPTV in the classroom.  Others have called it “a safe space for kids.”  “It elevates public discourse.”  “It educates to inform and enrich.”  She noted a whole family of immigrants who leaned the new language via Sesame Street, and referenced one of her elderly friends (now blind) told Susan in reference to IPTV, “This IS my intellectual life now.”
 
In response to a question about a perceived increase in sponsor promotion on IPTV, Susan said the FCC still places strict limits on advertising.  It cannot be more than 15 seconds.  No logos or slogans are allowed.  In total, two minutes are allowed at the beginning, and two minutes at the end.  They are actually required to disclose who funded the program.