Thursday roundup: USDA backs digital projects; PBS hires Fox exec for digital

• Public TV stations in four states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will receive a total of $2.5 million in federal grants for upgrading transmitters, translators and production equipment. The grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced Wednesday, are part of the 2014 Farm Bill reauthorized by Congress. We'll have to expense a trip to the islands to report back on their new equipment. • PBS has hired Don Wilcox, a former executive with Fox Broadcasting Corp., as v.p. of digital marketing and services. At Fox, Wilcox was v.p. and g.m. of branded entertainment, overseeing websites including Fox.com, American Idol's and TheXFactorUSA.com, which now just redirects to a YouTube page, so maybe he left Fox with that one on his thumb drive.

Media-watchers check in on PBS/Harper’s kerfuffle

The dustup, or at least perceived dustup, between Harper’s and PBS is getting more attention, with the magazine’s publisher sharing more details with the Columbia Journalism Review. Last week, the New York Post first reported that PBS yanked ads from upcoming issues of Harper's after an essay critical of the network ran in the magazine's October issue. Today CJR reports that PBS confirmed it pulled an ad from this month's issue, but the network declined comment on whether it yanked the other ads. "[T]o have done such a petty thing does make me suspicious," MacArthur says. CJR's David Uberti adds: "Pulling advertisements is an age-old tactic for businesses facing media criticism to seek retribution.

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.