Congress passes omnibus spending bill, secures $445M for CPB

A government-wide spending bill containing more than $1 trillion in appropriations, including $445 million for CPB through fiscal year 2016, passed the Senate Thursday by a wide margin on its way to President Obama's desk. The Senate voted 72-26 for the measure after it cleared the House the previous day. Republicans cast all of the dissenting votes. In addition to CPB funding, the bill allocates $2 million for rural noncom stations that qualify for CPB's Community Service Grants. Federal aid for CPB has remained relatively stable over the past three years, though appropriations took a hit with the automatic spending cuts that took effect in March 2013.

CPB grants $1.4M to new Local Journalism Center focusing on energy

CPB will award $1.4 million to seven public radio and TV stations for the creation of a new Local Journalism Center covering energy policy, production, use and innovation. The grant is for two years, and the LJC will hire seven new positions along with freelance multimedia reporters to cover the beat, according to CPB spokesperson Kelly Broadway. Rocky Mountain PBS and KUVO-FM in Colorado are the lead stations on the initiative, which will focus on the West and Great Plains. The other participating stations, together covering six states and parts of Canada, are northern Colorado's KUNC-FM, Colorado Public Television, Wyoming Public Media, Wyoming PBS and Prairie Public. The energy LJC, which will use data-based reporting to cover local and regional energy issues, is the second that CPB has committed to funding this year.

American Archive lands with WGBH, Library of Congress

Boston’s WGBH and the Library of Congress will take over stewardship from CPB of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a collection of programs, raw footage, speeches, concerts and other program-related materials spanning over 50 years of pubcasting history. Together, WGBH and the LOC will digitize and store more than 40,000 hours of content. Both will provide public access to the collection within their own facilities in Boston and Washington, D.C. Materials with cleared rights will be available online as well. CPB, which initiated development of the collection in 2007, will provide $1.1 million over two years to support the archive. “We’re playing to both of our strengths,” said Karen Cariani, media library and archives director at WGBH, who will manage the station’s role in the project.

CPB to support more collaborative journalism projects

CPB will devote $2.5 million to reporting projects spearheaded by stations and national producers, President Patricia Harrison announced Nov. 12 at the Public Radio Regional Organizations Super-Regional conference in Fort Washington, Md. The funder will provide $1.5 million for the Diverse Perspectives project, an initiative to support reporting from groups of news stations for local, regional and national use. Like the CPB-backed Local Journalism Centers, the stations will focus on particular topics. The number of stations to receive the two-year grants will depend on the range and size of proposals submitted, said Bruce Theriault, CPB senior v.p. of radio, but he estimated that about five groups will receive support.

WGBH, Library of Congress to host pubcasting’s American Archive

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. Boston's WGBH and the Library of Congress will host and preserve the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a permanent collection of more than 50 years of public broadcasting history. More than 40,000 hours of content dating back to the 1950s will be digitized, stored and made available for on-site access at both WGBH's Boston headquarters and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., according to a Nov. 14 announcement from CPB, WGBH and the Library. Development of a permanent pubcasting archive began in 2007 through a CPB initiative.

Knell’s departure stalls discussions about expanding NPR’s Code Switch

Talks between NPR and CPB about expanding the network's Code Switch to a local and regional level are on hold as NPR President Gary Knell departs for his new job. A CPB draft business plan for 2014, released last month, said that the corporation “is considering building on the success of the NPR Code Switch initiative by extending it to local stations as a regional initiative.”

The cross-platform production aims to examine issues of race, culture and ethnicity, and spark discussion on social media platforms and NPR’s website. It launched in May with a $1.5 million, two-year grant from CPB. Discussions about expanding Code Switch beyond its current operations are now in a holding pattern, however, as NPR looks for a new chief executive. “We’ve been talking to NPR and PBS about a national-down-to-local diversity initiative,” said Michael Levy, executive v.p. of corporate and public affairs at CPB.

Krichels to oversee system development and media strategy for CPB

Veteran pubcaster Ted Krichels will become CPB's new s.v.p. for system development and media strategy, effective Nov. 4. Krichels replaces Mark Erstling, who remains with CPB but will focus solely on issues concerning the upcoming television spectrum auctions and subsequent channel repacking. In his new role, Krichels will oversee CPB's efforts to ensure that public television and its related digital and visual media services are universally available across America. Krichels has more than 25 years experience in pubcasting management, most recently as associate v.p. and g.m. of Penn State Public Broadcasting in University Park, Pa., and previously as c.e.o. of KBDI in Denver.

CPB finds pubTV stations committed to keeping spectrum

Anxiety among public TV executives about channel repacking after spectrum auctions outweighs their enthusiasm for selling bandwidth, CPB s.v.p. Mark Erstling told corporation directors during their Sept. 17 board meeting in Washington, D.C.

CPB has commissioned Booz & Co. to research the effect of spectrum policy issues on the pubTV system for a white paper CPB will release early in 2014. The outcome of the upcoming auction to clear broadcast bandwidth for use by mobile devices is as critical to the future of public media “as the original noncommercial set-aside of public spectrum and the Broadcasting Act of 1967,” Erstling told directors. CPB’s greatest concern is loss of universal access to local public TV services, Erstling said.