When Congress adopted the Public Broadcasting Act 40 years go, it put its contribution to public TV and radio into the hands of the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a structural characteristic and two mandates that have caused conflict and inertia ever since. The law has the President nominate the CPB Board and the Senate confirm the CPB Board. Rather than keeping political appointees off the board, it splits them almost equally. The majority are chosen by the White House from its own party and the minority of board members named, in practice, by Senate leaders of the other party. The appointment has become a mid-level plum for political appointees.
Fans of two now-defunct college stations are pursuing legal actions against the sale of the stations to Minnesota-based American Public Media Group.Two supporters of Florida’s Christian Family Coalition filed suit Oct. 18  in a state court in Miami to overturn Trinity International University’s September sale of former Christian music station WMCU to APMG, which aims to start a classical music station in Miami. In the Twin Cities area, where a classical station was on the losing side, a group of former listeners to St. Olaf College’s bygone WCAL has questioned its sale to APMG’s Minnesota Public Radio, which converted it to The Current, a contemporary music station. On.
“Let’s face it,” writes a prominent pubradio station news director, “despite 40 years of evolution, we have produced a lot of journalism, but we still lack full commitment. Especially local news commitment.”
Advocacy groups protesting Ken Burns’ upcoming World War II doc asked PBS and WETA in Washington, D.C., Aug. 20  for assurance that the producers would work harder to include Latinos in “current and future programming. The statement about Burns’ The War bore the signatures of 53 individuals, ten media, policy and educational organizations and Defend the Honor, the coalition that first challenged Burns. In a response, PBS said it “continues to build upon our track record of inclusion in programming, in front of and behind the camera.” WETA has issued no response. The full statements from Defend the Honor and PBS are below.
Public broadcasting’s five CPB-funded minority consortia sent this letter to PBS President Paula Kerger on April 9, 2007. Dear Paula:
I’m writing to you on behalf of my colleagues of the National Minority Consortia (NMC), which, along with the National Black Programming Consortium, includes the Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting, Native American Public Telecommunications and Pacific Islanders in Communications. We would like to offer our support to you in helping to address in a positive manner what we view as legitimate community concerns over the omission of Latino voices from Ken Burns’ The War. It is not the idea of an intentional exclusion that raises the flag of indignation from the American public – and not only, as has been suggested, Hispanic Americans. It is the idea that the perspective of those within the public broadcasting system empowered to make decisions about what is and is not appropriate for a public television event of this magnitude do not fundamentally represent the diversity of this society.
July 3, 1978
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation: The Supreme Court upheld the FCC’s right to ban indecent speech when children could be expected to be in the audience. Pacifica’s WBAI in New York had aired George Carlin’s “Filthy Words” monologue in the afternoon of Oct. 30, 1973. Upshot: Confirmed both the FCC’s right to regulate indecent language and its definition of such speech as that which depicts “sexual or excretory activities or organs in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium.” Indecent material falls short of obscenities, which are banned at all hours. Aug.
NPR exec Ken Stern sent this memo to public radio stations’ Authorized Representatives as a followup to the New Realities Forum in May 2006. News from Ken Stern – Digital Distribution Consortium Working Group
June 6, 2006
Last month, about 300 of our colleagues gathered at the New Realities National Forum in Washington. We discussed the future of public radio and our service, and envisioned the benefits of working together differently in the future. It was an exciting and motivating session and we’d like to extend our thanks to all who participated in the forum and the retreats leading up to it. Many retreat discussions and more than a dozen forum breakouts explored the shared notion that we have yet to seize the opportunities of the digital age.
Text of Bill Moyers’ speech May 18, 2006, at the PBS Showcase Conference, Orlando, Fla. He spoke after PBS gave him its third annual Be More Award. Jump to sections where Moyers:
thanks associates for their part in his work,
tells why the best is yet to come,
recalls discussions in the Johnson White House,
lists what public TV could do for democracy, and
explains why CPB didn’t get stable funding
See also Current’s coverage and full text of the speech. Thank you for this moment. I consider your award the singular honor of my long life in public broadcasting.
Congress doesn’t work that way, said Wilbur Mills, the formidable chair of the House Ways and Means Committee in the late 1960s. Bill Moyers, then a young aide to President Johnson, recalled the upshot of the Public Broadcasting Act: Congress created CPB but left it without a dedicated revenue source, destined to lobby unceasingly for annual appropriations. This account is excerpted from Moyers’ speech to the PBS Showcase Conference in May 2006. (The full text of the speech is also on this site.)
… When he signed it, the President said that the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 “announces to the world that our nation wants more than just material wealth; our nation wants more than ‘a chicken in every pot.’ We in America have an appetite for excellence, too….