“It was clear to us then that PBS could not retreat from Death of a Princess without compromising the integrity and independence of the network,” recall Larry Grossman and Newton Minow in Columbia Journalism Review. The former PBS leaders compare their handling of the controversial PBS docudrama with CBS’s cancellation of The Reagans.
Tavis Smiley says in the New York Daily News that listeners complained when he enlisted the conservative J.C. Watts to provide commentaries. “I had people demanding to know if I’d lost my mind,” he says. “But my belief is we need to hear and examine different perspectives, not just our own.”
Tavis Smiley’s criticism of Washington’s WAMU hasn’t helped his chances of being heard in the nation’s capital, reports the Baltimore Sun. “There are ways to court program managers other than to complain in the media,” says a station spokeswoman. [Earlier coverage in Current.]
In the same Geneva conference center where Internet summit participants are fighting over political control of the Web, broadcasters are holding their own summit, where they claim to be dealing with more significant issues, AP reported. Along with the BBC and many national nets, Pacifica’s WBAI sent a rep.
Independent Lens is crafting an interactive version of its documentary series for the American Film Institute’s Enhanced TV Workshop, reports the New York Times. Interactive TV could “attract additional tech-savvy viewers who are hungry for more information, and don’t like to be passive when they watch,” says Lois Vossen, a producer with ITVS.
Examine WAMU’s budget and “there are no thousand-dollar designer trash cans lurking in the numbers, no junkets to Caribbean islands, nothing that smacks of illegality or unethical spending,” reports the Washington Post. Instead the numbers reveal how an ambitious strategic plan failed to produce the results station leaders had hoped for.
German public television is defending two of its cultural channels from politicians’ proposal that they be merged to save money, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported. Public TV is seeking to increase the tax on TV sets 6 percent to 17 euros ($21) a month.
Some Vermonters want their state public radio network to carry Democracy Now!, but the network’s president says the show won’t air because of its brand of advocacy journalism, reports the Rutland Herald. Other public radio managers say their listeners have been spearheading similar campaigns.
The Berkshire Eagle criticizes Bill Moyers for his Nov. 28 interview with Jim Bouton, former major league baseball pitcher and author who battled the newspaper over preservation of an old baseball park in Pittsfield, Mass. During the same broadcast, Moyers delivered an essay tying Bouton’s experience in a one-newspaper town to the dangers of media consolidation [Via thetip.org].
New York’s WNET is looking for a few good donors, reports the Daily News. The station needs cash to digitally restore some of its most valuable programming, including “American Family” (1973) and “The Great American Dream Machine” (1971-72).
The Annenberg Foundation has given $3.5 million to the Metropolitan Opera to help keep the company’s weekly broadcasts on the air, reports the New York Times (reg. req.). ChevronTexaco withdrew its support for the Met earlier this year.
Wall Street Week with Fortune, the PBS series that reinvented itself last year after a messy split with original host Louis Rukeyser, is setting itself further apart from its progenitor. The program sharpened its reporting this fall on the scandal-plagued financial markets while expanding its coverage to economic trends beyond Wall Street. Acknowledging the steady drumbeat of news about improper trading practices and corporate malfeasance, Executive Producer Larry Moscow wants WSW to reflect investors’ ire over scams that deflated their portfolios and retirement accounts. Investors, he observed, are now saying, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
“We want to put PBS at the vanguard of reporting on that rebellion by providing independent information about what’s going on,” Moscow said. “These are different times and we have to do things beyond sitting in the studio and talking about it.”
The shift in tenor was unmistakable in co-host Geoffrey Colvin’s introduction to the Nov.