Board votes to suspend ICAN payout


To ensure the financial stability of the Hoosier State Press Association, its board of directors voted to suspend the 2011 payment of the share of ICAN Plus and ICAN Daily revenue that traditionally is paid back to participating members.

HSPA was hit this year with several factors that led to an erosion of the association’s reserves.

Revenue from the statewide advertising programs, particularly the ICAN Plus 2×2 display ad program, dropped precipitously in the waning months of the year.

Midwest Advertising Placements will finish at a greater-than-anticipated loss. The board anticipated that the revamped display advertising placement program would take two to three years to break even. The sluggish economy and other factors conspired to keep revenue for that program down from what had been budgeted.

InfoNet, the content-sharing service provided by HSPA, was subsidized by the organization as it builds its participation from members, freelancers and entities interested in utilizing the service to distribute news releases. In 2010, the service basically has been subsidized by HSPA.

Shrinking revenue and new expenses brought on by MAP and InfoNet created a red-ink year for HSPA. This led the directors to act on the two payout programs.

In June, HSPA distributed back $107,185 to those papers who donate space to the ICAN Plus and ICAN Daily programs. The newspapers and others also donate space to HSPA for the ICAN program.

The dues credit of up to $400 for ICAN participants was not impacted by the Dec. 10 board action.

Other actions have been instituted to turn HSPA’s financial ship around.

HSPA has a commission-only salesperson making telephone sales calls to potential customers for the ICAN programs.

MAP Advertising Director Pam Lego will also make sales pitches for the ICAN programs as part of her MAP duties.

Numerous cuts have been made in the HSPA, InfoNet and MAP budgets for 2011, reducing expenses without sacrificing services provided. The 2011 budget was approved by the board during its December meeting.

“I’m comfortable that with the cuts made and efforts to increase revenue, the 2011 budget will keep total HSPA operations in the black next year,” said Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel. “The only question is how long will it take for our ICAN sales efforts to begin bearing fruit.”

If the state and national economies continue their slow improvement, Key believes actual revenue in 2011 should surpass the budget projections. But the early months of 2011 may be rough, he added.

The suspension of the ICAN program payouts by the board isn’t intended to be permanent but only serves to get HSPA through the current financial setback.

The ICAN programs, which allow HSPA to sell donated space in participating member newspapers, accounts for about 80 percent of the association’s budget. Without those programs, dues would have to be increased by five times the current amount to create the same level of revenue.