Outlook grim for pubcasting in New Zealand

“2012 will be a make or break year for public broadcasting in New Zealand,” according to the Spy Report, an Australian media news site. “New Zealand governments have never shown a strong commitment to public broadcasting, but 2011 has witnessed a remarkable dismantling of what little there was of public broadcasting on television.”On Dec. 23, it says, Stratos Television, the country’s only national independent noncom channel, went dark; its c.e.o., Jim Blackman, cited “transmission costs coupled with the economic environment and general lack of support at all levels” as the cause. The noncom children’s and family channel, TVNZ 6, ended broadcast on Feb. 28.

Florida stations still struggling after May cut of state funding

The Tampa Bay Times is looking back at a rough year for pubcasters in the state, after Gov. Rick Scott’s decision in May to veto nearly $4.8 million in state funding. Public TV stations lost more than $300,000 and each public radio station saw a $60,000 drop. All told, in the Tampa Bay area, WEDU, WMNF and WUSF radio and TV stations lost a total of around $1 million. “And while Tampa Bay area public broadcasting fans initially responded with a surge in donations,” the paper noted, “as the year wore on, local stations found themselves increasingly challenged to find new, permanent solutions to the funding dilemma.””The public, in times of emergency, comes through,” said Rob Lorei, WMNF’s news and public affairs director. “Now they don’t have that sense of urgency.”

Bob O’Rourke dies at 72; developed pubcasting science shows

Bob O’Rourke, a former vice president for public relations at the California Institute of Technology who helped develop several pubcasting science features, died Tuesday (Dec. 27) of complications following a lung transplant. He was 72.O’Rourke conceived the idea for AirTalk: The CalTech Edition, a collaboration with local NPR member station KPCC in Pasadena, Calif., as well as The Loh Down on Science, “the fun way to get your daily dose of science in less than two minutes,” hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh. He also was a driving force behind Curious, a four-part pubTV series from WNET that focused on the work of scientists at CalTech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”Bob O’Rourke’s passing is a loss to Caltech that is incalculable,” said Loh, a Caltech alumnus, in a statement from the university. “I feel his loss as deeply as I would the loss of a member of my own family.

FCC reaffirms “tribal priority” for broadcast licenses

The Federal Communications on Wednesday (Dec. 28) issued an order reaffirming the “tribal priority” it created in 2009 to bolster Native American rights in broadcast licenses. In a concurring statement, retiring Commissioner Michael Copps called the order a “wonderful step” toward “bringing modern telecommunications to Indian Country.”John Crigler, a longtime telecom attorney working with Native Public Media (NPM), told Current that the order recognizes “the inherent right of tribes to serve their own people, by recognizing that tribes and Alaska Native villages are political, not racial classifications.” Crigler said the FCC adopted a requirement that protects tribes from proposing a broadcast allocation, only to lose it to a non-tribal bidder at auction. Now, only a tribal entity may bid on a tribal priority allocation.

KET to provide public-affairs programming to Kentucky pubradio stations

Kentucky Educational Television in Lexington begins programming partnerships with pubradio stations in the state in January, it said in a statement Wednesday (Dec. 28). Participating will be WEKU in Richmond and WKMS in Murray, with other pubcasters coming on soon. “Our partnership with Kentucky public radio stations will strengthen the public broadcasting service for Kentuckians by expanding access to trusted signature public affairs programming,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director. KET series and programs available to public radio stations for broadcast will include Kentucky Tonight, Comment on Kentucky, One to One with Bill Goodman, Connections with Renee Shaw, Education Matters, Jubilee, Legislative Update, candidate forums and election night coverage.

Reno’s KNPB to drop 2.5 hours of children’s shows, forgo after-school programs

KNPB, PBS in Reno, Nev., will end children’s programming at 12:30 p.m. starting next week, cutting 2.5 hours from its nine-hour daily schedule of kids’ shows, reports Technorati, noting that the change “will put KNPB tied in third place for the fewest hours of daily children’s programs among 30 PBS affiliated stations surveyed in the western United States,” after California stations KRCB in Rohnert Park and KCSM in San Mateo, which is currently for sale. The new schedule goes into effect Jan. 2, 2012.In an email to Technorati, Kurt Mische, KNPB president, said that the changes “will allow us to serve a larger audience of viewers . . .

Romney: Under his presidency, PBS would have advertisements

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, on the stump ahead of Iowa’s Jan. 3 GOP caucuses, today (Dec. 28) told a crowd at a deli in Clinton, Iowa, that if elected, he would end public broadcasting funding, reports ABC News. “We subsidize PBS,” he said. “Look, I’m going to stop that.

Funeral on Thursday for attorney Bob Woods, 80

Robert A. Woods, 80, a retired founding partner in the communications law firm of Schwartz, Woods & Miller, died Dec. 22 following a long illness. A funeral service will be held Thursday morning in Bethesda, Md.The firm handled FCC and other matters for numerous public broadcasting stations as well as for common carriers and commercial broadcasters. Woods had served as outside general counsel for the National Association of Educational Broadcasters and the Joint Council on Educational Broadcasting, which advocated the commission’s reservation of channels for educational TV in the 1950s.Woods and Louis Schwartz started the firm in 1970. Lawrence M. Miller later became a name partner.