Op-ed writers see “fake populism” in campaign to defund NPR

In a Nov. 23 online op-ed and analysis for the Guardian, media blogger and j-school professor Dan Kennedy describes the political campaign to defund NPR as part of a “culture war being waged by the right.”Kennedy examines the arguments of Republican lawmakers who are calling for an end to federal funding, including the assertion that NPR programming is “liberal,” and finds that they don’t hold water. Much of NPR’s programming, he writes, ” exudes a liberal sensibility reflected in cultural references and, to an extent, story selection. But the reporting itself is balanced and, if anything, errs on the side of caution.” He finds some exceptions to this in shows that air outside of drive time, such as the “frankly liberal orientation” of On the Media, but adds: “in the main .

FCC officially starts process to clear TV spectrum

The FCC today (Nov. 30) unanimously approved a three-part rulemaking to begin to free up TV spectrum for wireless devices, TVNewsCheck is reporting. “These actions will lay the groundwork for the goals set in the National Broadband Plan to make available up to 120 MHz from the broadcast television bands for new wireless broadband services,” said Alan Stillwell, the FCC staffer who presented the proposals at the meeting. Pubcasters and other broadcasters will be faced with the decision to give up spectrum for cash, or keep it for future use (Current, Feb. 8).

What’s that up there? (page 2)

AM: still used by several dozen pubcasters

AM radio uses the low frequencies where radio began, which have much longer wavelengths. While FM antennas are relatively small and mounted high on towers, AM’s longer wavelengths use the entire tower as an antenna, along with a network of underground wires that typically surround the tower in a circle as wide as the tower is high. Experts in the black art of AM facility design recommend that AM towers’ height be a precise fraction, such as one-quarter, of the station’s wavelength so that the tower will resonate with the frequency. Stations with lower frequencies tend to have higher towers. Old-timer KOAC in Corvallis, Ore.

High stakes + direct access = full engagement

Noel Gunther remembers the moment when he realized that public broadcasting had to get involved in traumatic brain injury education. It was 2001. Gunther was producing a segment for WETA’s documentary series Exploring Your Brain. He was interviewing hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, who had been forced to retire at age 34 after several concussions. The first, in 1990, knocked him unconscious and put him into convulsions — and yet LaFontaine was back on the ice 10 days later.

CPB’s 2011 business plan continues to back mergers and consolidations

The CPB  Board’s 2011 business plan, now online (PDF), was approved during its meeting Nov. 15 and 16  in New Orleans. CPB’s six priorities for 2011: digital and innovation; diversity; dialogue, engagement and awareness; education; journalism; and core system support.That plan promotes station mergers and consolidations of functions such as joint master control operations — concepts the corporation has long encouraged (Current, March 1). CPB also will continue working to promote stations’ financial stability. “If that proves to be unfeasible” with a particular station, the document notes, “CPB will explore alternatives to maintain public broadcasting service to the affected community.”The plan reports that CPB is assisting the three Los Angeles PBS affiliates “in their efforts to develop a new operating model that will reduce competition, increase content differentiation and improve fundraising capacity” (Current, Aug.

What’s that up there?

Talk about collaboration! A typical FM/TV tower can be home to dozens of antennas for stations and other spectrum users. Five full-power TV stations and five FM broadcast from Pinnacle Hill in Rochester, N.Y. (right). Some FM translators and two-way radio and mobile users also share the tower. Pubcaster WXXI owns the middle tower and uses it to broadcast its TV signal and two FMs.

1 These are UHF TV antennas, typically 40-50 feet in length.

FCC extends Emergency Alert System deadline

The FCC has extended the deadline for complying with new Emergency Alert System rules, reports Television Broadcast today (Nov. 24). The new deadline for all EAS participants to implement Common Alerting Protocol technology is now Sept. 30, 2011, instead of March 29, 2011.

Let’s hope there are cookies in the Green Room . . .

Cookie Monster wants to host Saturday Night Live. (Hey, if octogenarian Betty White can do it . . .) Want to help? Watch Sesame Street’s latest soon-to-be-viral video: Cookie Monster’s audition tape for Saturday Night Live, then visit the “Cookie Monster should host Saturday Night Live!”