Dropping BBC, WLIW will produce new news program

WLIW in New York is dropping BBC World News, which it has distributed to pubTV since 1998, and producing a new half-hour international news program for pubTV, working title Your World Tonight. KCET in Los Angeles will be the new distributor of the BBC nightly newscast. The BBC has been investing in a separate newscast on its own cable channel, BBC America, and had indicated it might limit the number of pubTV stations that could carry BBC World News, WNET president Neal Shapiro told The New York Times. “It would have meant 60 to 70 percent of the public broadcasting audience would lose access to the show,” said Shapiro, and BBC execs made it “pretty clear that the future of the BBC was not intertwined with public broadcasting.” BBC Worldwide America exec Michele Grant said the BBC doesn’t want the pubTV and cable newscasts to compete for the same time slot but is still committed to keeping a broadcast on pubTV. Marc Rosenwasser, Shapiro’s former colleague at NBC News, will produce the new WLIW program.

MPB reducing power to analog transmitters

Mississippi Public Broadcasting will reduce power to four of its eight analog transmitters before the Feb. 17, 2009 shut-off, starting with its Raymond site, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. That signal currently reaches 50 miles from Raymond but will only reach around 20 miles from the city after the reduction, potentially making things tough for over-the-air viewers outside that radius. In the next few months, MPB will reduce analog power to stations in Bude, Greenwood and Meridian. “We’re going to be able to save a couple hundred thousand dollars by doing it this way rather than doing it all at once,” said Marie Antoon, MPB’s executive director, told the newspaper.

NYT: A time of redefintion for pubradio

This Sunday Times article rounds up pubradio efforts to reignite the stalled growth of its audience, from WNYC’s new The Takeaway to projects including the Public Radio Talent Quest and Chicago Public Radio’s :Vocalo.

Aaron Brown to host Wide Angle

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown is the new host of Wide Angle, PBS’s international current affairs documentary series, produced by WNET in New York. The former host was Daljit Dhaliwal, who anchors the pubTV international news program Foreign Exchange and also the recent pilot of Global Watch, a program from KCET about international perceptions of the United States.

Philly’s WYBE: All shorts, all the time

WYBE’s new model, based on 5-minute programs that run online and on-air, aims for “a marriage of the often-frustrated community-TV ideal of locally produced original programming and the convenience and short-attention-span exuberance of free digital media-on-demand,” reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. On the new Mind TV, paying WYBE members get production training and a platform for their videos, which station execs hope will provide about one-third of all content. The rest will be produced by station staff or chunked from existing pubTV programs. Resources for the change came in part from NBC, which–in exchange for one of WYBE’s digital channels–provided the pubcaster with new studio equipment and training. (See Current’s story on WYBE’s revamp in the April 21 issue.)

PBS series spurs nationwide forums on health inequalities

Stanford  University is holding a public forum about health inequality in America, inspired by the recent PBS series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? The series, which looks at how race and socioeconomic status–more than personal choices–impact Americans’ health, has spawned or supplemented some 150 meetings and discussion forums in local government, philanthropic and medical institutions across the country. See Current’s Q&A with executive producer Larry Adelman here.

Moyers to interview Jeremiah Wright

Bill Moyers will interview Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, on Bill Moyers Journal this Friday. The recently retired Wright, who was Barack Obama’s pastor, has been in the media for controversial comments he made in his sermons about 9-11, racism and other topics. This is his first broadcast interview since.

WNYC’s Lehrer: ‘O’Reilly was great’

At a party last night for WNYC’s new national morning show, The Takeaway, Studio 360 host and New York media wag-in-chief Kurt Andersen described the new offering as “the bastard child of Bill O’Reilly and, I don’t know, Brian Lehrer,” Mediabistro reports. Lehrer, a popular WNYC host, played along during a panel discussion: “Don’t tell anyone… Bill O’Reilly was great.” John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji will host the PRI-distributed show, which debuts with one hour April 28 and will eventually expand to three or four. Hockenberry’s concept for the show is somewhat loftier than Andersen’s, according to Mediabistro.