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.

Former PBS Distribution executive accused of embezzling $2.1 million

The former finance director of PBS Distribution, a partnership between PBS and Boston’s WGBH that handles digital and video sales, is accused of embezzling some $2.1 million in a lawsuit filed Monday. Christopher C. Morris of Chelsea, Mass., allegedly deposited 202 checks in his personal account at Citizens Bank from 2008-13 that were payable to PBS, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The lawsuit does not say how long Morris worked for PBSd. Morris forged PBS’s endorsement on the checks, the lawsuit contends. Federal Insurance Co.

In maintaining towers, stations face higher costs, lack of space

If any part of the broadcast plant ever merited the label “necessary evil,” a top nominee would be the tower. Expensive to maintain, fraught with potential hazards, bound by an ever-growing web of regulations, unloved by neighbors and often located inconveniently far away, a pubcaster’s tower still serves as the essential link between its program service and its audience. In the early years of public TV and radio — before streaming and podcasting and cable and over-the-top video delivery — pubcasters and their audiences depended completely on the reach of the signals their towers could deliver. When broadcasting was a new and developing communications medium, those towers were much easier to build. As long as they weren’t in an airport flight path, the NIMBY factor was rarely a concern as public TV and FM stations spread across the country from the 1950s into the 1970s.