Success in sharing arts content inspires new programming co-ops for public TV

Public TV stations are starting two new programming co-ops modeled after the Arts and Culture Major Market Group project, which gathers and repackages local content for more than 30 stations nationwide. WNET, which handles the arts project, now has producers compiling station contributions for a new technology initiative as well. The local segments feed into SciTech Now, a half-hour newsmagazine hosted by PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan that premiered Oct. 1 in New York, Houston and Seattle. Another program-sharing pilot aiming for small and midsize stations, based at Maryland Public Television, draws from the popular genre of outdoors shows.

Programming in Brief: PRI launches women-focused initiative, WQXR offers Berlin concerts, and more

Public Radio International will launch a multimedia program focused on women’s empowerment with a grant of about $1.28 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Across Women’s Lives is a “journalism and engagement initiative” examining the connection between women’s empowerment and health and economic development. The program highlights personal stories of women in Africa and India and looks at women’s lives from infancy to old age. The project’s content will be featured on PRI’s global news program The World and online. Additional content includes short video documentaries and educational tools to help listeners learn more about the topics covered.

PBS to track behavior of viewers pledging to core-schedule programs

In an experiment signaling public TV’s resolve to address concerns about the long-term effects of transactional pledging on its donor base, PBS plans to test whether fundraising around regularly scheduled signature series can convert more viewers into loyal members and donors. Though traditional fundraising programs generate more cash for stations, many development professionals believe that pledging around core programs could yield better-quality donors who are committed to public TV’s mission. Stations such as Maryland Public Television and PBS SoCal in Orange County, Calif., have successfully pledged series from PBS’s National Program Service, as well as popular British dramas and comedies acquired from other distributors. Their results prompted PBS to take a deeper dive into the approach. “As we transition from a goal of gross dollars into a broader philosophy of the long-term value of donors, this seemed like a great time to look seriously at best practices with emphasis on sustaining donations,” said Joe Campbell, v.p. of fundraising programming.

Samuel English III, Aviation Weather host, dies at 79

Samuel James English III, host of Aviation Weather, a series produced and distributed by Maryland Public Television in the 1970s, died Nov. 3 of respiratory failure at his home in Pikesville, Md. He was 79. Known as “Jim” on the air, English delivered twice-weekly weather reports for private airplane pilots, and flew in his own spare time. The program was produced live, in partnership with the National Weather Service.