Greater Public, the organization providing fundraising resources and support to public media stations, has opted not to renew the contract of Jeannie Ericson, executive director of its digital division. Ericson formerly worked directly with stations as executive director of the Integrated Media Association, which merged with Greater Public in August 2013. Under a yearlong contract that expired Aug. 29, she helped Greater Public evaluate how to integrate iMA’s digital services for stations into its existing portfolio of development-focused activities. Ericson had not expected that Greater Public would decline to renew her contract, she said.
CPB will review its television Community Service Grant policies to clarify how to handle station revenues from the upcoming spectrum auction. The auctions, mandated by Congress to be conducted by the FCC before 2022, will clear spectrum for wireless devices. All broadcasters must decide whether to participate, and a station’s sale of spectrum could bring in millions of dollars. So far, two recent noncom TV deals in California and Maryland, in which a speculator paid stations up front for a share of future spectrum proceeds, each topped $1 million. The value of a similar deal in Connecticut was not made public.
Firelight Media, the documentary filmmaking nonprofit founded by Stanley Nelson, received a $2.55 million grant from CPB Aug. 20 to expand Producers’ Lab, a public television documentary mentorship project. Producers’ Lab recruits filmmakers and producers from underrepresented regions across the country to work with Nelson and Firelight Media to create documentaries that include a more diverse range of voices. The grant will allow the lab to add 30 to 40 more producers to the program over three years and expand its recruiting to all regions of the country. The program’s goal of adding more diversity to public TV’s airwaves was a main selling point for CPB, according to Joseph Tovares, senior vice president of diversity and innovation at CPB.
KEET-TV, one of the smallest PBS member stations, has grown its membership by 40 percent and raised more than $600,000 over the past six months in an effort to keep its federal Community Service Grant. Local businesses in Eureka, Calif., have posted banners pushing “The Power of One,” the motto of KEET’s campaign. Website pop-ups show viewers holding signs with titles of their favorite public TV shows. A local utility provider is pitching in, donating a portion of each paid petroleum bill to the station. At issue is KEET’s inability to meet the $800,000 minimum in nonfederal financial support that CPB requires of CSG grantees, which the station has never done in its 45-year history.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded an $850,000 grant for eight new half-hour episodes of America By The Numbers, a series featuring journalist Maria Hinojosa that had a pilot run as a PBS election special. Programs in the series, which will air on PBS and the World Channel, will cover topics such as health disparities revealed by infant mortality rates, military service by residents of non-voting territories of the Pacific Islands and the effects of the domestic oil boom on Native American lands. “Consistent with the mission of public broadcasting – to give voice to the extraordinary diversity of this country – I am excited that PBS and the World Channel will premiere America by the Numbers,” said Maria Hinojosa, series host and project leader, in a statement. “This eight-part series is the first national TV program dedicated to documenting massive and historic demographic change in the US using hard data and powerful storytelling.”
America By The Numbers is a collaboration between Hinojosa’s Futuro Media Group and Boston’s WGBH. CPB backed the production through its Diversity and Innovation Fund, according to its June 5 grant announcement.
CPB and Ready to Learn, a U.S. Department of Education program supporting preschool learning, will provide $2.2 million in grants to 21 public television stations to create new or expand existing school-readiness projects. One of the new grants, announced June 3, will establish an Illinois Ready to Learn transmedia network with pubTV partners WILL in Champaign-Urbana, WSIU in Carbondale and WTVP in Peoria, to reach 12,000 educators and 13,000 school children. Partnering with community coalitions in central and southern Illinois, the effort will provide educational programs to three low-income communities, as well as offer professional development for educators. The stations received just over $105,000 for that work. Since 2011, pubTV stations nationwide have used Ready to Learn grants specifically to extend the educational benefits of PBS Kids content by providing interactive math and literacy programs and services to local communities.