The third-season finale of Downton Abbey drew 8.2 million viewers for its Feb. 17 PBS broadcast, the network and WGBH announced Feb. 19. The numbers come from Nielsen and gave the episode a 5.2 household rating. The episode came in with 50 percent more viewers than the season two finale in 2012 and also drew 300,000 more fans than this year’s season premiere.
As the executive producer who acquired and managed co-productions of British dramas for Masterpiece and its predecessor titles for more than 26 years, Eaton has brought high-profile miniseries such as Prime Suspect, Bleak House and recent hits Sherlock and Downton Abbey to PBS.
When the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts announced a settlement with Boston’s WGBH over its handling of $60 million in federal grant funds, it was the second time in two years that a major producing station had come under scrutiny by auditors for its handling of grant monies for public TV productions.
This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. WGBH has agreed to pay more than $300,000 in a civil settlement with the U.S Attorney’s Office to resolve allegations that it improperly tracked and accounted for federal grant money, The Associated Press is reporting. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz told AP that from 2005–08 the Boston pubcaster maintained an inadequate accounting system for tracking grant expenditures. The settlement, announced Thursday, is for damages incurred by the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. WGBH spokesperson Jeanne Hopkins told Current that the settlement involves a payment equal to the error rate of half a percent to one percent of the total value of the grants, which was $60 million.
Boston NPR news station 90.9 WBUR-FM is wading into the Cape Cod resort market and going toe-to-toe with WGBH’s network of stations with its planned purchase of 92.7 WMVY-FM on Martha’s Vineyard. WBUR is buying the Tisbury, Mass.-based station for an undisclosed amount from Housatonic, Mass.-based Aritaur Communications Inc. The sale is expected to close in early 2013 pending FCC approval. Now broadcasting an adult alternative format, WMVY, known as mvyradio, will switch to WBUR’s news format, reaching up to 60,000 listeners with a 3,000-watt signal. The market includes Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and coastal towns including New Bedford, Fall River, Falmouth and Westport. “We believe that the islands, Cape Cod and SouthCoast are important parts of the community we cover and serve,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz, in a statement.
When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the most populated region of the United States Oct. 29, claiming at least 90 lives and wreaking havoc on everything in its path, public broadcasting stations along the Eastern Seaboard couldn’t escape the storm’s wrath.
As a Masterpiece production competing against other miniseries, movies and specials, Great Expectations received Emmys for outstanding achievement in costume design (Annie Symons, Yvonne Duckett), art direction (David Roger, Paul Ghirardani, Jo Kornstein), main title design (Nic Benns, Rodi Kaya, Tom Browich) and cinematography (Florian Hoffmeister). In addition, the Masterpiece production Page Eight won an Emmy for original main title theme music (Paul Englishby). Other PBS winners included the Independent Lens production Have You Heard From Johannesburg, a seven-part series about the global anti-apartheid movement that received a juried award for exceptional merit in documentary filmmaking. Cited were Connie Field, producer; Lois Vossen, series senior producer; and Sally Jo Fifer, executive producer. Geoffrey Ward received the Emmy for nonfiction writing for scripting Ken Burns’s Prohibition: A Nation of Hypocrites.
Roger Fisher, a Harvard law professor who developed the Emmy-and Peabody Award–winning public TV program The Advocates, died Aug. 25 in Hanover, N.H. He was 90. His son Elliott told the New York Times that the cause of death was complications from dementia. Fisher proposed The Advocates in 1969, as a co-production of WGBH in Boston and KCET in Los Angeles. The show was one of the first projects at WGBH for Peter McGhee, who went on to become an influential head of national productions at the station.
New Hampshire Public Television and WGBH in Boston announced today a collaboration in both programming and back-office tasks. The two said in a statement that each will remain independently owned and operated stations. They have posted a website to explain the upcoming changes to viewers in both states. NHPTV will contract for services in broadcast technologies, membership services and financial administration, which will allow for financial savings that may be redirected to programming, the announcement said. “The collaboration will provide operational economies, which are key to NHPTV’s continued success following the loss of its state funding and its transition from an entity of the University System of New Hampshire to an independent, community-licensed public media organization,” it said.