PBS Digital Studios is commissioning the digital media unit at New York’s WNET to produce 40 episodes for two new YouTube series, marking its first major content collaboration deal with a PBS member station. WNET’s Interactive Engagement Group will create short-form videos about gender identity. WLIW, the station’s Long Island affiliate, will produce a series on consumer technology. PBSDS will co-produce both. Representatives at PBS and WNET declined to discuss the value of the contract, which was announced Wednesday.
Public TV stations are starting two new programming co-ops modeled after the Arts and Culture Major Market Group project, which gathers and repackages local content for more than 30 stations nationwide. WNET, which handles the arts project, now has producers compiling station contributions for a new technology initiative as well. The local segments feed into SciTech Now, a half-hour newsmagazine hosted by PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan that premiered Oct. 1 in New York, Houston and Seattle. Another program-sharing pilot aiming for small and midsize stations, based at Maryland Public Television, draws from the popular genre of outdoors shows.
PBS and New York’s WNET joined major commercial networks Wednesday in hailing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the business model of Internet TV service Aereo in violation of the 1967 Copyright Act. In a 6-3 decision, the high court held that Aereo’s business model of charging subscribers for access to an individual antenna and DVR service for over-the-air broadcasts violates the 1967 Copyright Act. The majority found Aereo’s operations more akin to those of a cable company, regardless of the technology it employs, binding the company to the same rules governing broadcast transmissions. Those rules require cable companies to pay networks for the content they transmit. The majority comprised Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The filmmakers behind a new documentary briefly discussed their “deeply troubling” experience with public TV in an appearance on public radio’s On Point Wednesday. Tia Lessin and Carl Deal directed Citizen Koch, now hitting theaters after vying for grant funding and a broadcast commitment from PBS’s Independent Lens. The film examines the influence of wealthy conservatives such as David and Charles Koch on Republican politics. A May 2013 article by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer suggested that ITVS, Independent Lens’s producer, backed away from the film due to pressure from New York’s WNET, where David Koch sat on the board. Appearing on On Point, Lessin and Deal said ITVS asked them to remove content related to the Kochs from their film and to change the name.