At least two public television networks opted not to air this week the POV documentary After Tiller, which profiles four late-term abortion providers and prompted a campaign among anti-abortion organizations. POV’s plans to air the film’s national broadcast premiere at 10 p.m. Sept. 1 spurred an Aug. 27 online statement from Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, who called the documentary “nothing short of pure propaganda intended to demonize the entire pro-life movement and drum up support for late-term abortion.” Several other anti-abortion websites urged visitors to contact PBS headquarters or PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler to protest stations airing the film. South Carolina ETV in Columbia and Mississippi Public Broadcasting in Jackson declined to air After Tiller.
• The standoff at Pacifica's headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., got coverage on a local news program on Oakland's KTVU. Executive Director Summer Reese is defying the board's efforts to dismiss her and has camped out at the office, with supporters and even her mother in tow. Watch KTVU's video and see the barricaded door, an air mattress used by the holed-up staff, and more trappings of this unusual episode. The report also features Pacifica Board Chair Margy Wilkinson, who is trying to fire Reese. Wilkinson alleges that at some point employees were shredding documents, which Reese denies in an oddly clipped statement in the segment.
• WNYC/New York Public Radio is receiving the largest grant ever given to a public radio station, it announced today. The pubcaster will use the $10 million from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation for digital innovation and to support its Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, keeping ticket prices low for events there. Also today, the station introduced a new Discover feature to its WNYC app, allowing listeners to create and download curated playlists with a function that "blends personal preferences with an element of surprise," it said in the announcement. • POV's new online documentary collaboration with the New York Times kicked off over the weekend with an in-depth look at a group of developmentally challenged men who survived decades of neglect in a small Iowa town. The Men of Atalissa, produced by the Times, was posted on both websites March 8.
Public TV was less visible at this year's American Film Institute documentary festival. Yet several of the 10 films that had received financial support from public TV grant-makers or broadcast commitments from PBS stood out among the 53 documentaries in the lineup. One even took the top prize.