NEH grants announced

New York’s WNET, Twin Cities PTV and WNED in Buffalo, NY, are among the most recent winners of National Endowment for the Humanities grants, the agency announced today. The grants to 118 applicants total $17.5 million.

Webcasters ask federal appeals court to stall new rates

NPR and other webcasters asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit court to a stay the controversial royalty hike a panel of federal copyright judges ordered in March, Variety and others report. (See also, the Radio and Internet Newsletter.) The new rates are scheduled to go into effect in July. NPR also filed an affidavit on behalf of public radio claiming that most pubradio stations are not able to make the calculations required by the proposed per-performance standard. On Wednesday (5/30) the network notified the court that it would appeal the copyright board’s decision. “It is crucial that relief be provided because in only 45 days – and counting – public radio stations which reach a broad audience will be forced to operate under commercial broadcaster rules and pay commercial-level royalties, and we still have no idea how much that amount is or even how to calculate it,” spokeswoman Andi Sporkin said in a statement.

NPR’s Girshman headed to CQ

Peggy Girshman, managing editor of NPR’s Newsroom of the Future, has taken a new job at Congressional Quarterly, according to an internal memo posted on Mediabistro. Earlier this month, CQ hired Bruce Drake, former NPR News v.p., to run its consumer publishing business.

‘Open Source’ passing the e-hat

Open Source, the innovative two-year-old show that melds traditional radio with online interactivity, posted an S.O.S. appealing to fans for financial support last week. “We love what we’ve built with you here,” wrote host Christopher Lydon. “We need your help to keep this community alive.” The show lost its major backer, the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, last year and has been struggling financially since, reports the Boston Globe.

Silicon Valley broadcaster Tom Fanella dies

Tom Fanella, president of KTEH in San Jose, Calif., for 19 years, died Monday of heart failure after fighting cancer for a year, Northern California Public Broadcasting said yesterday. He had worked for public TV stations in Pittsburgh and his hometown of Syracuse, N.Y. His stations won the top PBS Development Award six times. Despite his fundraising success and Silicon Valley’s wealth, KTEH struggled for revenue in the shadow of the nearby KQED. Fanella and KQED President Jeff Clarke arranged a merger creating NCPB last year.

Gaffney: Moderate Muslims getting “the Rosa Parks treatment”

Frank Gaffney, co-producer of the Islam vs. Islamists, is upset that his doc is not getting national carriage and that its new distributor, Oregon Public Broadcasting, will pair it with a discussion program designed to place it within proper context, according to this Washington Times editorial. CPB commissioned the film for its America at a Crossroads series but supervising producers at WETA and PBS said it was too imbalanced and overheated to air in its current state. Like Rosa Parks, Gaffney writes, the moderate Muslims featured in his film “must know their place, too. And their place is not in prime time, nor national distribution.”

Masterpiece to be umbrella for 3 strands

Suspecting that Masterpiece Theatre is showing its age after 36 seasons — an eon in TV years — the program’s producers at Boston’s WGBH will “polish” the brand and expand into new media platforms in order to bring more structure and predictability to the schedule and reach the next generation of Sunday night drama fans. The same courtly theme music by French composer Jean-Joseph Mouret will open the program, but it will lose the little tabletop journey of its video opening and half of the series name. The producers will drop “Theatre” and add headings for three distinct seasonal strands: Masterpiece Contemporary in the fall, Masterpiece Classics in winter/spring and Masterpiece Mystery! (working title) in the summer slot Mystery! now fills.

Gossip can travel slowly but persists

Word has reached Poland that Tinky-Winky may be gay — and possibly a threat to children. Reuters reported that a government official became concerned when she learned that the purse-carrying purple member of the Teletubbies kidvid quartet was a boy tubbie. Tittering over the news item began within days after the death of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. CNN wondered whether the “King Lear” remarks of Falwell’s recent years would outweigh his legacy as a leader for faith-based politics.

Sacramento station buys Stockton outlet

Sacramento’s Capital Public Radio has purchased its outlet in Stockton, KUOP, which it has operated for six years under an agreement with the station’s licensee, the University of the Pacific, Central Valley Business Times reported Saturday.

Street named for WETA founder

On Saturday, the government of Arlington County, Va., will name a street that runs past WETA’s offices after the station’s founder, the late Elizabeth Campbell, WETA said. It’s South 28th Street, the main drag of the Shirlington shopping area, where you can see NewsHour and WETA staffers lunching in outdoor cafes. Mrs. Campbell died two years ago at the age of 101.

Grants for new-media experiments

Prompted by online developers’ need for quick cash infusions, CPB is offering Public Media Innovation grants of $5,000 to $20,000 for stations to experiment in emerging media platforms, with target audiences. Round 1 applications, due June 18, must relate to the 2008 national, state or local elections. Round 2 will be open to other projects. Details are online. Mark Fuerst is project director,

Bee gets stung on Morning Edition audience numbers

The Morning Edition audience trends reported by the Sacramento Bee were wrong, according to pubradio analyst John Sutton, who compares key audience stats from the Bob Edwards era and after. He reports that Morning Edition’s national cume has increased but the average listener is spending less time with the program.

OPB catches a hot documentary

CPB and Oregon Public Broadcasting said today that OPB will distribute the hot-potato documentary Islam vs. Islamists to pubTV stations, relieving public TV of complaints that pubcasting was bottling up the documentary funded by CPB but rejected by PBS. (American Public Television also rejected the film, the syndicator told Current.)

What does YouTube have today? How about the Sesame Street theme on beatbox/flute?

Sac Bee: Morning Edition is “more relevant” with co-hosts

In the three years since Bob Edwards was ousted as host of NPR’s Morning Edition, the morning newsmag has gained 3 million listeners, according to the Sacramento Bee. Reporter Sam McManis writes that the show is “a better, newsier, more nimble and relevant program with Renee Montagne and Steve Inskeep as co-hosts.”

Lowell Award goes to Bitterman

Mary G.F. Bitterman, who ran stations in Honolulu and San Francisco and now chairs the PBS Board, received CPB’s Ralph Lowell Award at PBS Showcase over the weekend. In nine years as president of KQED, she led its revival as a local producer and helped stabilize its finances. In between her station jobs she ran the Voice of America.

It takes two ombudsmen to deal with reactions to Moyers

“I’m beginning to think that PBS may need a separate ombudsman just to deal with the weekly mail praising or pillorying this lightening-rod/icon,” writes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, referring to Bill Moyers’ recent return to PBS. In his first column in nine weeks, CPB Ombudsman Ken Bode steps into the breach to make a “very good point” that Getler wishes he had made regarding “Buying the War,” the lead documentary of Bill Moyers Journal. Bode describes the documentary as “embarrassingly flawed” because Moyers and his producers failed to examine how PBS’s own NewsHour with Jim Lehrer failed to scrutinze the Bush Administration’s case for initiating the Iraq War.

Iowa debates: NPR broadcast, then free access

Presidential debates planned for exclusive broadcast on NPR stations next January will be made available for full and free public access by bloggers, podcasters, mainstream media, and anyone who wants to create a mash-up. NPR and Iowa Public Radio, partners in the production, announced the unrestricted license agreement today, prompting cheers from Jeff Jarvis, a journalist and blogger pushing to “free the debates” from copyright restrictions.