Merrill Brockway, Emmy-winning Dance in America producer, dead at 90

Merrill Brockway, a producer and director of several PBS arts programs who was best known for his work on the Great Performances spinoff Dance in America, died May 3 in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 90. Brockway was born in Indiana and began a career as a piano teacher and accompanist before entering TV at the age of 30. He wrote and directed for CBS affiliates in Philadelphia and New York before leaving commercial TV for PBS in 1975, when Dance in America launched. He worked on the program, produced by New York’s Thirteen/WNET, from 1975–88, capturing some of America’s most renowned dancers and choreographers on film. Dance in America spotlighted the work of Martha Graham, Thyla Tharp, and the New York City Ballet as choreographed by George Ballanchine, among many others.

Sun, who grew up in north-eastern China during the Cultural Revolution, pursued an engineering career out of "curiosity," she said. "With engineering, you see a problem, you fix it and you see the result right away." (Photo: WOSU)

Blazing her own path as a pubTV broadcast engineer

The first television broadcast in China was transmitted in 1958. The first time that Ling Ling Sun watched a television program was 20 years later, when she was 18. Now she is engineering manager for television broadcast services at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and was recently appointed vice chair of the PBS Engineering Technology Advisory Committee.

APT, PBS partner to offer Moyers & Company for viewing on COVE

Moyers & Company has become the first American Public Television-distributed program to be presented on the PBS COVE online video player and PBS mobile apps. The weekly public affairs show, hosted by veteran public TV journalist and independent producer Bill Moyers, has been offered on COVE on a test basis for several weeks, according to spokesperson Joel Schwartzberg. With today’s announcement, PBS and APT signaled their intention to collaborate to bring more APT titles to PBS’s online video player. The arrangement helps to make Moyers & Company more easily accessible for public TV viewers. The series, which launched in August 2010, is the first from Moyers to be distributed by APT.

NEA announces 2013 media arts grants; OVEE and AIR projects among recipients

The National Endowment of the Arts announced $4.68 million in funding to 76 media-arts projects April 23, including new grantees such as the Online Video Engagement Experience (OVEE) developed with CPB funding, a new initiative from the Association of Independents in Radio called Spectrum America and Sonic Trace, a multimedia production at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., that was created through AIR’s recently concluded Localore project. For a second year, the NEA will continue to support projects that use digital technologies to go beyond traditional broadcasting platforms. In its announcement, the endowment highlighted a $100,000 grant to OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local station content. The Independent Television Service developed the technology with support from CPB. AIR also received $100,000 for Spectrum America, a project that will pair media artists with public stations as they experiment with “new approaches to storytelling.”

Sonic Trace, a co-production at KCRW initiated through AIR’s 2012–2013 Localore initiative, received a direct NEA grant of $75,000 to continue exploring the experience of Latino immigrants. NEA also backed digital media projects at NPR, providing $100,000 for music programming and multimedia content.

PBS FY14 draft budget has $11M content hike, no dues increase, thanks to income influx

PBS’s year-to-date financial results show a net income of $22 million instead of the estimated $100,000 net loss anticipated in its fiscal year 2013 budget, the PBS Board of Directors heard at their meeting April 9 at headquarters in Arlington, Va. “I may never get to say this again, but that’s pretty impressive,” said Molly Corbett Broad, finance committee chair. Thanks to the influx, PBS’s FY14 budget contains an increase of $11 million for National Program Service content without a hike in dues for member stations. The draft budget, unanimously approved by the finance committee and full board, will arrive at public television stations in the coming weeks for comment. Total member assessment is $185.5 million, the same as FY13.

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Scarce funding limits public media’s response to gun debate

The mass shootings last year in Colorado, Wisconsin and Connecticut reawakened Americans to recurring tragedies of gun violence and rekindled a national debate about gun control — one that public radio and television have chronicled and analyzed through ongoing programs and the package of special broadcasts that aired on PBS last month.