NCME director praises KLRU interactive pledge drive

“In public media, it’s getting more and more difficult to distinguish among content, engagement and fundraising. And that’s exactly as it should be,” writes Charles Meyer, executive director of the National Center for Media Engagement, in blog post today (Aug. 11). Meyer cites Why KLRU? in Austin, an experimental interactive pledge drive.

SiriusXM trying end-run around SoundExchange is reporting that SiriusXM Radio is attempting to directly license music from record labels, bypassing SoundExchange, the nonprofit performance rights organization. In a letter to independent labels via Music Reports Inc., Sirius is offering to pay a royalty rate of 7 percent of gross revenues. That’s less than the 7.5 percent it now pays SoundExchange, which tracks airplay on radio stations for the purpose of collecting royalties for copyright owners.

Smiley alleges snub from President Obama

PBS talk-show host and social activist Tavis Smiley is creating a buzz today (Aug. 11) with comments on C-SPAN about his professional relationship with President Obama, of whom he is often critical. “Once he got elected,” Smiley said, “and my critique of him about holding him accountable to various things didn’t sit so well with him or the people around him, he has not at this point come on my TV or radio programs one time since he’s been in the White House. This is the first president in my professional career that hasn’t invited me to the White House.”Smiley and Princeton University professor Cornell West are currently on a 15-city “Poverty Tour,” attempting to make the problem a higher-profile issue for the 2012 election.

Latest print issue of SF Public Press hits the streets

The fourth print edition of the SF Public Press is out, a news collaboration of several nonprofit organizations including KQED, KALW-FM and California Watch/Center for Investigative Reporting. In the feature article, reporters examine the city’s budgeting process, exploring “participatory budgeting,” the use of the Internet to promote transparency and the “unfulfilled promise” for government audits to identify and eliminate millions of dollars in waste. SF Public Press also publishes new content daily online. It says it “aims to do for print and Web journalism what public broadcasting has done for radio and television.”

PBS’s commercial UK channel to launch Nov. 1

PBS is looking for advertising partners for its first international channel, according to the British-based Mediaweek news site. The PBS-branded channel, bankrolled by a Canadian oil entrepreneur (Current, Aug. 1), has obtained its commercial Ofcam broadcast license and will initially be available to more than 9 million households on the Sky Digital platform; carriage negotiations also continue with Virgin Media. Initial content will include major program strands such as Nova, American Experience and Frontline. Filmmaker Ken Burns’ six-hour Prohibition series also will have its international premiere on the channel.”This initiative is a logical next step in creating wider distribution for PBS programs,” Anne Bentley, PBS spokesperson, told Current, “and the vision is to include most major icon series, as well as other films and specials, presenting the best of American culture to the UK.”The channel’s general manager, Richard Kingsbury has hired two staffers from his former employer, UKTV: Katie Cook is heading up programming, and Rebecca Edwards is overseeing public relations and marketing.

FCC fines rising for public file violations, attorney points out

The CommLaw Center blog of law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is cautioning broadcasters to pay closer attention to their public files. Media attorney Scott Flick observes that the Federal Communications Commission is taking a “hardening line on public inspection file violations.” In 1997, the FCC established a base fine of $10,000 for public inspection file violations, but tended not to issue fines for the full amount unless it was an egregious problem, such failure to keep a public file at all for some period of time, Flick writes. But over the past decade, $10,000 has become the standard fine for even minor public file violations — and in one recent case, the FCC adjusted that figure upward and issued a $15,000 fine. On Wednesday (Aug.

Florida stations to collaborate to save SightLine reading service

Here’s some actual good news coming in the wake of the Florida state funding elimination. WSRE-FM in Pensacola won’t have to discontinue the longtime SightLine daily reading service for listeners with visual impairments after all, reports the North Escambia news website. WUWF-FM, University of West Florida’s UWF Public Media, approached the station with the suggestion to relocate the reading service and coordinating responsibilities there, but continue to use WSRE’s SAP (Second Audio Program) channel to deliver the service as it has for nearly two decades. (Although it had been impacted by state cuts, WUWF wasn’t hit quite as hard as WSRE.)WSRE agreed to the joint effort, and the two have even added a new program, The Radio Reader with Dick Estell, a daily half-hour pubradio show featuring newly published books. WUWF also is dedicating a digital radio broadcast channel (WUWF HD-3) to the reading service and will be streaming it online.”This is a great opportunity for us to work with our public television colleagues in continuing an important community service,” said Pat Crawford, WUWF executive director.

Environmental news awards go to public media journalists

Public media reporters and producers made a strong showing in the 10th annual Society of Environmental Journalists awards: ProPublica and Frontline staffers for “The True Story Behind the Oil Spill”; PRI’s The World for ongoing environmental reporting; Maine Public Broadcasting for “Science Skeptics, Corporate Lobbyists and the Assault on Maine’s Environment”; and PBS NewsHour for “In Middle East, Coalition Aims to Ease Tension Over Water Resources.” A full list of winners is here.

MemberCardConnect launches today

Member Benefits Inc., which runs local member benefit programs for more than 140 pubcasting stations, kicks off its new MemberCardConnect website today (Aug. 8). (Here’s a look at the page for Chicago Public Media.) The company says the new site merges station content, branding and social networking tools with expanded MemberCard benefits and online rewards. Each station’s page contains sections highlighting underwriters and sponsors and announcing upcoming events, as well as links to station social network pages and an RSS applet.

Rubinsohn: APT, TJL, DLT

Pubcaster David Rubinsohn has added yet more initials to his resume. In addition to working for TJL Productions and APT, he’s now director of public TV sales for DLT Entertainment. The television production and distribution firm said in a statement Monday (Aug. 8) that it’s looking to expand content choices to pubTV. Rubinsohn formerly headed programming at WHYY in Philadelphia, and was v.p. of programming and distribution at New York’s WLIW.

Former pubcaster uses news format to teach history of minorities in new website

Robert Miller, past director of educational publishing at WNET, has launched a new website with a unique approach to teaching African-American and Mexican-American history. Our History as News uses a newspaper format that is “engaging, exciting, immediate,” Miller told the Hispanically Speaking News site. “Because we use advertisements, short news articles and original illustrations, as well as feature stories and editorials, we offer people with all levels of reading skills the opportunity to learn.” The Black Chronicle tells the story of African-Americans from 1778, when Rhode Island Slaves were promised their freedom if they fought in the Colonial armies, up through 1954, when Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of the bus. In the bilingual La Cronica, coverage begins in 1835 when California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas were still part of northern Mexico, and continues through 1969, when Latino students walked out of Los Angeles high schools to protest discrimination.Miller started The Black Chronicle in 1969. Early supporters included Henry Hampton, producer of the critically acclaimed Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights documentary series.

Diana Nyad ends historic swim halfway through due to strong winds and currents

KCRW’s Diana Nyad, the 61-year-old champion swimmer making her second attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, has officially ended her quest about halfway through, after nearly 30 hours in the water. CNN is reporting that Nyad was vomiting when she was brought aboard a boat at 12:45 a.m. today (Aug. 9). Nyad “struggled through ocean swells, shoulder pain and asthma Monday before she was forced to give up the 103-mile swim,” CNN’s account says. Her team told the network that strong winds and tricky currents figured into her decision.

KQED-FM “dominant” in 25-54 ratings demographic

KQED-FM/88.5 is enjoying a nice ratings run. The station arrived at No. 1 in the San Francisco market for the first time in April. Jo Anne Wallace, g.m., was cautious, noting the station “didn’t celebrate, but we took note of it.” After a slight dip for pledge in May, the station was again atop the local ratings in June, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pledge Pipeline, 2011-12

Current’s first Pledge Pipeline previews 36 shows heading to public TV on-air membership drives in December 2011, March 2012 and beyond. Producers and distributors provided this information in response to Current’s questionnaire. December ’11
’60s Pop Rock: My Music
Producing organization: TJL Productions. Distributor: PBS. Length: 75 minutes in four acts (SD 4:3).

PBSd venture and MHz project aim to export public television

Television viewers in Great Britain, the Middle East, Russia and India could soon be watching American public TV shows, if two initiatives get up and running in the coming months. The PBS UK channel is being bankrolled by W. David Lyons, an entrepreneurial oilman from Calgary, Alberta. The programming will be assembled by PBS Distribution (PBSd), a partnership of PBS and WGBH that holds international rights to a “significant number” of public television titles, said Jan McNamara, PBS spokesperson. In a separate venture, Virginia-based MHz Networks, which feeds international content to some 30 American public TV stations on its Worldview multicast channel, will reverse direction with its MHz America package, pushing local shows from at least five pubTV stations and independent producers to foreign markets. Each could be on the air abroad by year’s end or soon after.

Is a Lake Wobegon movie in the works?

Garrison Keillor is still confident in his decision to step aside from full-time hosting duties at public radio’s Prairie Home Companion in July 2013. “I think it’s a great plan,” Keillor told the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal in a story Sunday (Aug. 7), “so that the host is able to step to the side before he becomes halting and pitiful, a lumbering galoot out on stage. I don’t need to be that person. I want to leave at the right time.”Keillor said he expects to continue supplying regular dispatches from Lake Wobegon — perhaps even in a big-screen movie.

Two news competitors in deficit, so one buys the other in Buffalo

Talks exploring a union between two major public broadcasters in western New York state will culminate with the $4 million sale of Buffalo’s WBFO-FM, the dominant NPR News station in the region. WNED, a public TV and radio operation with a weaker AM signal for news, in addition to an FM for classical music, will buy the news station from the State University of New York’s University at Buffalo, retaining its call letters and news format. With the stronger FM news signal, WNED plans to enhance WBFO’s appeal to Canadian audiences, who comprise 68 percent of member contributors to WNED-TV, according to Don Boswell, president. Broadcasting on WBFO’s 50,000-watt signal on 88.7 MHz “gives us the totality of what we need to grow into the Canadian marketplace,” Boswell said. WNED, which has a $23 million endowment from the sale of its second TV channel in 2000, plans to finance the purchase with a loan, he said.

And she’s off: KCRW’s Diana Nyad begins attempt at Cuba-Florida swim

At 7:45 p.m. Eastern last night (Aug. 7), KCRW’s Diana Nyad entered waters off Havana to began her second attempt to swim the 103 miles between Cuba and Florida. Matt Sloane from CNN is in a support boat and Tweeting what could be a 60-hour journey; CNN also is tracking the swim here. Sloane report at around 9 a.m. Eastern this morning that 20 miles into the swim Nyad is doing well, with the exception of a few minor shoulder pains.CNN reported the start of her odyssey last night. “I’m almost 62 years old and I’m standing here at the prime of my life,” she said as she walked toward the sea.

Chicago’s WBEZ mulling midday program changes

Chicago Public Media WBEZ-FM is working on plans to boost its output of local news during middays in response to two new local FM news outlets, reports Chicago media critic Bob Feder. Torey Malatia, president of Chicago Public Media, outlined details for staffers Friday (Aug. 5). Currently the station airs local newsmag Eight Forty-Eight and international affairs talk show Worldview, both WBEZ productions, along with various programs from other sources. “Some of those purchased programs would probably remain, but the weaker ones would go away,” Malatia said.