A group of 40 New Jersey officials and pubcasting leaders met for more than eight hours Friday (Nov. 19) to hear advice from journalists and academics on saving the New Jersey Network after state funding ends soon (Current, July 6, 2010). Included were State Treasure Andrew Eristoff, an aide to Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex) and execs from WHYY in Philadelphia, jazz station WBGO in Newark, and WNYC and WNET/Thirteen in New York City.Steve Adubato Jr., president of Caucus Educational Corporation, a producer of public affairs, cultural and educational programs for more than 20 years, told the Star-Ledger that the conversation made it clear that the current television-centered pubcasting model is not sufficient. Thursday night, NJN had reported that the state decided the best option for the network is a collaboration between WNET and Adubato Jr. But an administration official told the newspaper “there are no front runners at this point, as it is still early in the process.” And Adubato called the report “premature.”
WBUR General Manager Paul La Camera is departing his post at the end of the year, he told the staff at a station meeting today (Nov. 19). “I’m going to be 68 next month and I think that’s an appropriate expiration date for someone to be running a dynamic contemporary media entity that increasingly has to surge into the digital world,” La Camera said after making the announcement. “To be frank, I’m more of a traditionalist, and that’s not necessarily my strength.” La Camera was appointed g.m. in October 2005.
Leave it to Roger Ebert to pen a love letter to NPR. The movie critic (and prolific blogger) today (Nov. 19) came to the defense of the beleaguered network. “NPR surely is the voice of America — the voice I hope the world is listening to via the internet,” Ebert writes. “It is the voice of our better nature.
South Carolina Educational Television has hired Linda O’Bryon, former chief of content at Northern California Public Broadcasting, as its new president and c.e.o., the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting. She takes the helm Dec. 1. O’Bryon had supervised producers, editors, reporters and tech personnel at pubTV stations in San Francisco, San Jose and Monterey, and two pubradio stations in Sacramento.
The Media Rating Council, which ensures standards of audience measurement, has removed accreditation for Nielsen’s measurement of its 154 diary-only markets, retroactive to 2009, according to Broadcasting & Cable. The magazine quotes “insiders” who say that with more folks dropping their land lines for cellphones, Nielsen is using address-based recruiting of ratings homes in its diary markets, instead of selecting by phone number. The new method resulted in sample sizes coming up short in two of the four quarters in 2009. Nielsen said in a letter to station clients that the issue has been resolved, it has requested a new MRC audit, and it expects to be accredited again soon. Nielsen’s local people meters took eight years for all markets to secure accreditation.
Producers made “a big mistake, one that was virtually certain to come back and bit them and PBS,” by editing out Tina Fey’s remarks about conservative women during during her acceptance speech for the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Prize on Nov. 9, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler writes in today’s (Nov. 18) column. The broadcast on PBS Sunday (Nov. 14) ran 22 minutes long, one of the producer, Peter Kaminsky, told Getler.
Texas Republican Reps. Joe Barton and Michael Burgess have called for a Government Accountability Office investigation of NPR’s funding. In a letter to the GAO, first reported Nov. 18 by Broadcasting & Cable, the lawmakers asked government investigators to follow the trail of federal funding in public radio — including CPB grants awarded to NPR and federal aid to local stations that may be re-directed to NPR.They pose five questions, including whether any federal funds pay for program production or the salaries of NPR personalities or editors, and whether NPR used federal aid to manage its contractual relationship with former news analyst Juan Williams or to pay for the internal review of his dismissal. They also ask investigators to examine and report details of the ethics code violations that NPR execs cited when they terminated Williams’s contract.The lawmakers write that the Williams dismissal “may reflect a tendency on the part of NPR management to use its ethics rules to silence employees,” according to The Hill.Rep. Barton is top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over CPB.
The House of Representatives today (Nov. 18) voted down a move to defund NPR, in the first Republican-ordered floor vote since the GOP-dominated Midterms on Nov. 2. The vote was 239-171. It was actually a procedural maneuver related to a debate rule on H.R. 1722, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.
Las Vegas PBS/Channel 10 is handling pledge in a very different way this season. “We are the only station in the U.S. trying this,” General Manager Tom Axtell, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. From Nov. 26 through Dec. 12, no more 10-minute begging breaks; now they’re three-minute segments.
In the midst of all the talk of defunding CPB, here’s a letter to the editor to boost your spirits. Reader Jon M. Nelson wrote to the Lake County Record-Bee in Lakeport, Calif., asking for public support to bring PBS to the county two hours north of San Francisco. Nelson thinks PBS is an especially important educational source for the children of the county. He said an engineer from PBS affiliate KRCB in Rohnert Park, Calif., about 75 miles away, told him the equipment costs to pick up its signal would be around $25,000. “We need to get together to raise funds for this project of adding public broadcasting into our lives here in Lake County,” wrote Nelson, of Lucerne, Calif., population 2,900.
In an interview with Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast, Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes unleashes on those who challenge the rightward partisanship of the cable news channel and provocative rhetoric of Bill O’Reilly, who recently joked about beheading Washington Post political columnist Dana Milbank. Ailes blasts Jon Stewart of The Daily Show for bashing conservatives, but takes his criticism to another level when the subject turns to NPR’s dismissal of news analyst Juan Williams.”They are, of course, Nazis,” Ailes said, referring to NPR’s leadership. “They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, speaking to the National Congress of American Indians Wednesday (Nov. 7) in Albuquerque, announced a Tribal Issues Commission meeting on March 3, 2011, in D.C. This year the commission adopted an order to streamline Native American broadcast radio assignment and allotment procedures. “Even though more than a million Native Americans and Alaska Natives live on over 55 million acres of Tribal lands across the U.S., there are only some 41 radio stations licensed to Native Entities,” Copps said. “The new Tribal Priority gives precedence to American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages, or companies controlled by Tribes, that want to set-up new radio stations to serve their local communities.” Two years ago this month, the FCC granted construction permits for 29 Tribal pubradio stations (Current, Nov.
It’s a wrap. After 36 years, Austin City Limits retired its legendary Studio 6A last week (Nov. 8) with a performance by Lyle Lovett, whose first appearance was as a backup singer to Nanci Griffith in 1985. The series will start the 2011 season in the new—and much roomier—Moody Theater in downtown Austin, Texas. Here’s a sample of the wide press coverage the event received, including remembrances from Scott Newton, the show’s photographer, who started shooting the action in 1978.
WBUR’s Order in the Court 2.0, winner of a Knight News Challenge grant, continues to progress, reports MediaShift Idea Lab. Two new staffers have arrived: Joe Spurr, project director, responsible for the design and development of the Order in the Court 2.0 website, which will provide live streaming of Quincy (Mass.) District Court proceedings. Spurr most recent worked at KPBS in San Diego, where he redesigned its website. Producer Val Wang will oversee the daily stream of written and video content from the court. She’s been a freelancer with Here and Now and On Point.
The National Religious Broadcasters group “suggests that the government turn its attention to the needs of a huge, underappreciated resource: noncommercial religious broadcasters.” The NRB released that statement today (Nov. 17) in reaction to the increasingly noisy debate over federal funding of CPB, PBS and NPR.“These donor-driven broadcasters do not receive a dime of tax money, yet they serve the public interest,” said Greg Parshall, NRB v.p. and general counsel, by spreading news about homeless shelters, reading and school programs, anti-crime groups, crisis pregnancy centers and military support programs. So noncom religious stations “should be give more latitude to raise funds on-air for other legitimate, nonprofit groups,” Parshall said, and need “fewer constraints in seeking program sponsorship from corporate and business underwriters.”The statement also includes a link to download “a 60-second audio actuality” calling on Congress to make the changes — available with or without background music.
House Republicans announced today (Nov. 17) that they plan to force a floor vote on defunding NPR, The Hill is reporting. House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said the issue received the most votes on Cantor’s YouCut site, which allows visitors to advise lawmakers on budget cuts. (The option to vote “no” is not provided.) “When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate [Correspondent] Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed,” the two said in a statement. “Make no mistake, it is not the role of government to tell news organizations how to operate.
PBS NewsHour’s new science page went live yesterday (Nov. 16), with original reporting by NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien, Digital Correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, Reporter/Producer Jenny Marder and the show’s science reporting unit. There’s a “Just Ask” feature for viewer questions for scientists and other experts, podcasts and more interesting science, engineering and techie stuff.
The Associated Press is reporting that 130 employees of the New Jersey Network received 45-day layoff notices Tuesday (Nov. 16) as the pubTV and radio network prepares to break from state support (Current, July 6). Another 17 who are paid through a private foundation also are expected to receive pink slips soon. They’re part of some 2,200 layoff notifications to state employees. However, according to the Asbury Park Press, most of the terminations are unlikely to occur.
CPB’s Public Media Innovation (PMI) fund is the topic of Friday’s (Nov. 19) webinar sponsored by the National Center for Media Engagement. The grants support station work on emerging media platforms. Representatives from KPBS in San Diego, Maryland Public Television, University of Pennsylvania’s WXPN and WKSU at Kent State in Ohio will discuss projects and generating new streams of revenue. Register here for the 1 p.m. Eastern event.
CPB’s Board of Directors at its meeting today (Nov. 16) in New Orleans approved a resolution expressing its “deep concerns about the consequences of NPR’s decisions” in the handling of correspondent Juan Williams’ dismissal — a termination that is now undergoing an external review. It says that the public television and radio systems are “highly interdependent,” which means the “actions of one public media stakeholder can affect the welfare of the others and the public media system as a whole.” The resolution states that public reaction has been “highly critical.” And it concludes that the consequences of NPR’s actions are “renewed challenges to public media’s journalistic integrity, Congressional attempts to reduce or eliminate funding for public media, and the impact such reductions will have on public media’s future programming and services.”