Webcasters find friends in Congress

U.S. Rep Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) introduced a bill that aims to throw out a controversial new royalty structure for music streams, passed in March by a panel of three copyright judges, that many webcasters say will put them out of business if it goes into effect. Webcasters support the lawmakers’ measure, which would set rates at 7.5 percent of streaming-based revenue–or roughly the same level as those for satellite radio–instead of basing the rate on the annually escalating, per-play standard that the record labels wanted and the judges decreed. Internet radio station operators have been bombarding Congress with pleas to intervene, an effort that became more urgent earlier this month after the copyright panel rejected all requests to reconsider its decision. In an arcane but crucial legal point, the bill would also change the standard by which future royalty rates are set from the nebulous “willing buyer/willing seller” concept to one that webcasters say more fairly balances the needs of copyright owners, users and the public good. For pubcasters, the new bill would set the new rates at 1.5 times what they paid in 2004, which was last official year of the system’s previous streaming rate deal with the labels.

PBS ombud: Airing Perle film an “abdication of journalistic principle”

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler thought several of the America at a Crossroads films were excellent and described one in particular, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, as “one of the most gripping hours I’ve spent in front of the tube in quite a while.” But he also agreed with critics and viewers who blasted PBS for giving an hour to neocon adviser Richard Perle during the series. The decision to re-present the initial case for a war “that has, at the very least, gone badly” instead of examining what went wrong and where the powers that be should go from here represents a “stunning avoidance of the real crossroad that we are at,” Getler wrote. He also criticized the series’ lack of substantive discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

MSNBC anchor coming to NPR morning show

Alison Stewart, host of MSNBC’s midday news show The Most, will co-host of an “upcoming 24-hour multimedia news service and morning drive show for Adults 25-44,” NPR announced today. The new show is working-titled the Bryant Park Project, now in a “Rough Cuts” blogging phase. Her new colleagues have posted a musical video tribute to Stewart. Before joining MSNBC in 2003, she anchored for ABC News, reported for CBS Sunday Morning and other shows and won a Peabody for MTV News election coverage. ‘Bistro says Stewart was music director of Brown University’s commercial college station, WBRU, when she was a student.

Antoniotti resigns at Detroit station

Detroit Public Television said yesterday that Steve Antoniotti, its president since 1995, “tendered his resignation because of an acknowledged failure to comply with station requirements, unrelated to financial matters.” Chief Operating Officer Dan Alpert will serve as interim g.m. The board chairman declined to discuss what those requirements were, the Detroit Free Press reported today.

On-air changes follow shift of control at KKJZ, Long Beach

Jazz announcers Chuck Cecil and Helen Borgers stayed on the air at KKJZ in Long Beach, Calif., when Mt. Wilson Broadcasters took over operation of the station April 21, the Orange County Register reported. But others, including Joni Caryl and Scott Willis, lost their gigs. On the same day, listeners of KUOR-FM in Redlands, east of Los Angeles, lost jazz programming entirely when its licensee, the University of Redlands, took the occasion to drop its KKJZ simulcast and picked up Southern California Public Radio’s all-news service, repeated from KPCC in Pasadena, the Redlands Daily Facts said. SCPR plans to launch a news bureau at the Redlands site.

Something about it broke me

Like many newspaper commentators, Arizona Republic’s Robert Robb found inspiration for a column in what he heard on NPR, or saw on its website, in this case: The painful-to-read profiles of the Virginia Tech victims. He wrote: “So many lives of promise. I was holding it together until I came to Henry Lee, a computer engineering freshman at Virginia Tech. Lee moved to the United States from China as a child and entered elementary school here not speaking English. He nevertheless became his high school salutatorian. He was, however, reluctant to speak at his graduation ceremony, but was talked into it.

James Lee Mathes, 73, and Fred Burgess, 64

Two public broadcasters active in southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, James Lee Mathes and Fred Burgess, retired to Kansas together in the 1980s. They died within seven months in 2007. James Lee Mathes
James Lee Mathes, 73, a pioneer in public TV at KCET and the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, died March 27 [2007] in his home state, Kansas. He had pancreatic cancer. Mathes worked on such KCET projects as Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series and an eight-nation simulcast, as well as fundraising and general administration.

CPB Board member Ernest Wilson now a dean

Ernest James Wilson III, a CPB Board member, was named dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication on Thursday, the USC Daily Trojan reported. He is a visiting professor of public diplomacy at Annenberg and a faculty member at the University of Maryland. He succeeds Geoffrey Cowan, who was also a Democratic member of the CPB Board.