KPBS, with the assistance of U:SA and research firm BDO, conducted a national survey to ascertain the fees assessed by licensees and the comparable services provided to the station.

As expected, larger stations paid more with amounts ranging from $24,000 to 3.2M annually. The surprising finding is the range of costs when analyzed as a percent of total operating revenue. There, support costs for HR, Taxes, Finance, Accounting, Risk Management, Grants Management etc., ranged from .11% to 12.2%.

Stations first identified which services/functions were managed by the station, jointly with the licensee/Foundation, by the licensee or foundation only, or outsourced to an agency such as NETA.

Each row represents a single station.

Data for the number of FTEs and the Cost of Outsourced Services was provided by respondents via survey and/or interview. Other financial data was imported through publicly available financial statements for FY 2020 or 2021, depending on the most recent data available.


Most stations have no detailed, formal operating agreement in place, and no key performance indicators to monitor or evaluate the service provided to them. Most rely on informal relationships and “as-needed” communications. Issues with services are raised as they occur. Just three stations reported standing meetings/reports as a part of university services.

If you did not participate in this survey, I encourage you to send me the relevant figures. Or, at the least, gather the data and plug it in to see if you’re paying above or below average fees for the services you receive.

For those who cannot get detailed financial reports from their licensee, the fee you’re paying may be considerably more than NETA would charge for full service financial management, reporting, taxes and ancillary services. Use this data to negotiate better rates or to be allowed to outsource. Or, you may find that the fees charged are “not so bad” after all.

Having this kind of benchmark statistical data can be an important element in negotiation/management which once again underlines the importance of your station’s participation in research surveys.