“What a difference a year makes,” Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the crowd at the group’s Public Media Summit on Feb. 27 in Arlington, Va. Last year at this time, the House of Representatives had just voted to eliminate all federal funding for public broadcasting. Since then pubcasters have notched several victories, including protecting the fiscal 2011 appropriation for CPB to $445 million. In recognition of Butler’s performance during his first year, the APTS Board of Trustees gave him an extended standing ovation.
The Interrupters topped the P.O.V. blog’s exhaustive list of the best documentaries of the past year, based on lists from critical acclaim, documentary festivals, industry organizations and online voting. The Kartemquin Films production, which recently ran on Frontline, tells the stories of three individuals in Chicago who literally interrupt situations on the streets that are brewing into violent confrontations. Don’t miss the blog’s cool graphic tracking dozens of films.
AOL and PBS today launched the multiplatform project “Makers: Women Who Make America” to showcase “hundreds of compelling stories from women of today and tomorrow,” as the site says. Tim Armstrong, AOL c.e.o., told Bloomberg News, “Women’s content is a major strategic focus for us.””Makers” filmmaker Dyllan McGee called the online-first approach “the future of documentaries.” The 59 interviews on the site so far include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tennis great Billy Jean King, newswoman Barbara Walters, entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In 2013, PBS will premiere a related three-hour documentary telling the story of the women’s movement over the last 50 years. WETA in Arlington, Va., will develop national outreach.
Legislation enacted last week to authorize FCC auctions of TV spectrum contains some protections for pubcasters, but broadcasters will face technical challenges that will exceed the difficulties of their transition to DTV just four years ago. The new law sketches out an extraordinarily complex process of auctioning off TV broadcast spectrum to mobile digital carriers and repacking reduced TV channels in the remaining spectrum, though many questions remain unanswered. The law now assures broadcasters that any spectrum giveback will be voluntary, for noncommercial and commercial operators alike. The FCC will not force any relocations from UHF to VHF or from high to low VHF channels. It will hold just one round of auctions, mandated for completion within 10 years, and one repacking to arrange the spectrum more efficiently.
“What a difference a year makes,” Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, told the crowd at the group’s Public Media Summit on Monday (Feb. 27) in Arlington, Va. Last year at this time, Butler notes, the House of Representatives had just voted to eliminate all federal funding for public broadcasting. But since then pubcasters have notched several victories, including resurrecting the fiscal 2011 appropriation for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from zero to $445 million.”Washington wisdom has it that we are likely to bump along this year with a series of stop-gap funding measures through the election; and that the mother of all lame-duck Congresses will come back after the elections to deal with a host of pressing tax and spending issues,” Butler said. “Uncertain as these prospects may be, we can take great confidence in the fact that we have earned the support of some of the most powerful Republicans and Democrats in this city.
The FCC has denied the request of a Native American college in New Mexico for more time to build a new noncommercial FM station. (PDF of decision.) Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M., had run into a number of setbacks as it worked toward getting its new station on the air. To start with, the school blew past its FCC-imposed deadline for starting the station due to a misunderstanding. It then revealed to the FCC that it couldn’t build the station at the location it had initially proposed because the solar-powered facility at the site would produce too little power. NTC blamed this error on a consultant who has since been fired.
There’s a growing disparity between the haves and have-nots among public stations. Their abilities to expand services and revenues are diverging. And if they were to collaborate on fundraising, they’d want different results from it. That was the scene as described by 20 execs and consultants in the Public Media Futures forum held Feb. 16 in Washington, D.C., by the communication schools of the University of Southern California and American University in cooperation with Current.
On his blog, media strategist Mark Ramsey argues that the old Arbitron diaries were better at showing which stations a listener actually values and engages with, as opposed to PPM, which doesn’t depend on a listener’s impressions to record and deliver data. Check out his video. If Ramsey is right, what are the implications for public radio? Are stations that have abandoned diaries missing out on valuable information, and, if so, how to recover it?
Alex Chadwick was lost. It took a journey to an unlikely place — the whitewater rapids of a Utah canyon — for him to find his way back to radio. In 2008, Chadwick found himself absent from the airwaves for the first time in decades. He had stepped down as host of the NPR show Day to Day to return to reporting, only to be laid off a month later, an unceremonious end to 31 years at the network. He then devoted himself to caring for his wife and partner in broadcasting, Carolyn Jensen Chadwick, who was battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells.