Idaho Public TV’s Morrill talks numbers with state lawmakers

Idaho PTV g.m. Peter Morrill appeared before state legislators today (Jan. 25) to detail what would happen if the governor’s proposed 6.4 percent funding reduction is approved: Three IPTV positions would disappear, a $97,200 cut from last year would become permanent, and $1.3 million in capital replacements – including some mandated by federal law – could not be done.

“Waste Land” gets Oscar nod

The ITVS-supported doc “Waste Land,” by Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley, scored an Academy Award nomination today (Jan. 25) for feature documentary. Last month it received the International Documentary Association Pare Lorentz Award at the IDI Documentary Awards ceremonies. A full list of nominees here.

Steve Miller band, downtown party to open new Austin City Limits venue

KLRU is inaugurating its new Austin City Limits theater with a big bash on Feb. 26 in Austin’s 2nd Street District. The 2nd St. Soundcheck event will culminate with the first ACL taping in its new, $2.5 million Moody Theater, named for the Moody Foundation backer of the massive project. First up: A 90-minute performance by the Steve Miller Band.

It’s half a century on the air for Eight/Arizona PBS

Eight/Arizona PBS is celebrating its 50th anniversary of going live on Jan. 30, 1961; by 1964 it had its first Emmy Award for 400 hours of local programming. Viewers are sharing their memories of the station, and there’s a cool retro video that includes its first moments of broadcast. Is your station or network marking an important anniversary this year? Let us know!

KCET continues ratings slide – except for British programming block

Although it’s mainly bad news for KCET in its latest ratings, there is one bright spot: Ratings for its Saturday block of British faves such as MI-5 and Keeping Up Appearances are up 33 percent over this time last year, the Los Angeles Times reports. Overall, the first three weeks of its independence from PBS show a 38 percent plunge. Over its entire broadcast day, KCET lost half its viewers compared with last year. The station now averages 10,000 households a day, “a figure that suggests the station’s potential donor pool will be considerably reduced,” the paper notes.

Weekend breaking news coverage would need a “NewsHour approach,” Lehrer says

In an interview with Baltimore Sun TV columnist David Zurawik, PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer said although it would be “possible” to cover breaking news on the weekends, “we just don’t have the resources right now.” Lehrer also noted: “… We’ve got to keep in mind, it’s got to be more than just the headlines. The headlines are already available in other places. We’ve got to take a NewsHour approach on Saturday and Sunday, just like we do Monday through Friday, or it is not working.”And, once again, Lehrer addressed his inevitable retirement.

Marcotte weighs in on editorial integrity of university-owned pubradio stations

Public radio news veteran Michael Marcotte acknowledges feeling conflicted by the proposal by Minnesota Public Radio founder Bill Kling to cut institutional ties between universities and public radio stations. As a former news director, reporter, anchor for more than one university-owned NPR outlet, Marcotte writes in a blog post that he understands the simplicity of Kling’s argument – “Universities have different missions than public radio stations, so their goals clash.” “I have spent many an hour working on heat-shield policies, ethics statements, codes of editorial independence, etc. toward fortifying journalism at university licensees. This is because Kling’s point has its basis and I’ve [known] many news directors who needed back-up.

Cutting NPR’s funding won’t eliminate the deficit, Powell says

During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union yesterday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell dismissed congressional Republicans’ proposal to cut the deficit by defunding public broadcasting. Congress won’t be able to balance the budget without going after the “real money” that’s spent on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Powell told host Candy Crowley.”You can’t fix the deficit or the national debt by killing NPR or National Endowment for the Humanities or the Arts. Nice political chatter, but that doesn’t do it. And I’m very put off when people just say let’s go back and freeze to the level two years ago…..That usually is a very inefficient way of doing it. Tell me what you’re going to cut, and nobody up there yet is being very, very candid about what they are going to cut to fix this problem.”

Cable glitch drops KCET from some Time Warner viewers

KCET continues to weather challenges following its departure from the PBS system on Jan. 1. The latest is a cable glitch, according to the Los Angeles Times. Time Warner was supposed to convert KCET to an all-digital signal last week, according to station programming chief Mare Mazur. The switch “should not have affected any subscribers with digital boxes, which according to Time Warner represents about 90 percent of their customers,” Mazur said.

In Pittsburgh, a broker turns operator

News/jazz WDUQ-FM will be sold to a joint partnership between another Pittsburgh pubradio station, WYEP, and a new local nonprofit established by Public Radio Capital. Left out of the sale are Scott Hanley, g.m. of WDUQ, and his staff and supporters, who mounted a bid to preserve jazz music programming. Their aspirations conflicted with those of local funders who pushed for greater emphasis on news. The $6 million deal, announced Jan. 14, opens a new chapter for WDUQ, established by Duquesne University in 1937 and put up for sale a year ago.

Burns calls pubcasting “a dividend we can’t do without”

In an interview with John Diaz, editorial page editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, PBS documentarian Ken Burns says: “I think we ought to just take pause and reflect on what this extra-marketplace programming means to us.” He also points out that the relatively small investment in public broadcasting produces “a dividend we can’t do without, especially in this commercial era.” Diaz agrees, noting in the column today (Jan. 23) that “Americans who want a depth of programming that doesn’t necessarily produce celebrity hosts or big ratings or high profits will now have to fight to keep Congress from cutting off funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

The Hub seeks university-linked news orgs

The Nonprofit Journalism Hub, a recent project of the Voice of San Diego, is looking for nonprof university-sponsored news organizations for its growing list. It’s aiming to “bring together myriad resources to help communities create their own successful nonprofit news organizations.” Interested? Submit your organization for inclusion here.

ivi TV loses first round in battle over TV signals – including public broadcasters’

A district court judge in Seattle has refused to grant a declaratory ruling that ivi TV’s service does not violate broadcast copyright protection, Broadcasting & Cable is reporting. The suit, filed in September, was a “a preemptive move to discourage needless litigation from big media,” according to ivi founder and c.e.o. Todd Weaver  (Current, Oct. 4, 2010). Soon after that suit was filed, PBS,, WGBH and 22 other plaintiffs asked the U.S. District Court in New York to keep ivi from selling their TV signals online. That action is still pending.

KLRN launches new public affairs program

KLRN in San Antonio premiered Texas Week With Rick Casey on Thursday (Jan. 20). Casey, a longtime columnist with the local News-Express as well as the Houston Chronicle, said the public affairs show will offer “a quieter discussion about important issues.” The show’s blog provides a look behind the scenes as the program was developed.

University of Houston to merge its PBS and NPR member stations

The University of Houston is merging its HoustonPBS/Channel 8 with its NPR station KUHF-FM/88.7 into one organization called Houston Public Media. The city’s CultureMap arts news website is reporting that TV and radio staffers were told in a meeting Thursday (Jan. 20).

Pubcasters selected as Peter Jennings Project fellows

Four public broadcasters are among the 2011 fellows for the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution March 4-6 in Philadelphia. The announcement of the 36 professional and six student fellows coincides with today’s (Jan. 20) posthumous induction of the longtime ABC News anchor into the Academy of Television Arts and Science Hall of Fame.Fellows include Carrie Johnson, Justice Department correspondent for NPR; Angela McKenzie, Initiative Radio; Amy Radil, KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio; and Paula Wissel, KPLU-FM.The annual conference allows journalists to explore constitutional issues.

Ebert keeps his chin up, with a new one

Legendary movie critic Roger Ebert will wear a prosthetic chin on his new show, he revealed in his blog Wednesday (Jan. 19). “That’s not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known,” Ebert wrote, referencing his facial disfigurement from several surgeries following thyroid cancer. “It will be used in a medium shot of me working in my office, and will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years.” The fitting and creation of the new chin took two years.

Governor proposes zeroing out South Carolina Educational Television support

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley wants to cut $20 million out of the state’s budget, and $9.5 million of that would be funding to South Carolina Educational Television, according to The State newspaper. Haley announced the proposed reductions in her state of the state address Wednesday (Jan. 19). State money is about half of SCETV’s $19.8 million budget. South Carolina faces a budget gap of more than $800 million.