Bates to delay retirement in Nebraska; NET’s top fundraiser also departing

Rod Bates, general manager of NET in Nebraska, is postponing his March 31 retirement by three months to allow the search for his successor to continue, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Also, Jeff Beckman, the state pubcasting network’s top fundraiser, announced his resignation last month, just days after learning he was not among finalists for Bates’ job. He told the newspaper he had been on  “parallel” tracks for both positions, and that failing to make the final cut with NET just “made my decision a whole lot easier.”

Bates, who announced his retirement last July, also said that he would be willing to stay past June 30 to ensure a smooth transition in leadership and fundraising.

CPB to honor Wise of Alliance for Excellent Education with its Thought Leader Award

CPB is presenting its Thought Leader Award tonight to former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The alliance is a partner in CPB’s ongoing American Graduate drop-out prevention initiative. “Gov. Wise and the Alliance for Excellent Education are champions for public media’s American Graduate initiative and the educational services that public broadcasting stations provide to their communities,” said CPB President Patricia Harrison in the announcement. “His lifelong commitment to the education of American youth is making a difference, helping more students to graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and in their careers.”

The CPB Thought Leader Award is given to persons who “affirm the essential services that public media provides to citizens in areas of education, journalism, and the arts,” according to CPB. The honor will be presented tonight as part of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) Public Media Summit in suburban Washington, D.C., by Sharon Rockefeller, president of WETA-TV, and wife of West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Putting more public service into public media at 2013 APTS Summit

Representatives from four sectors of the public service community made a case for more partnerships with public television during the opening session of the Association of Public Television Stations’ 2013 Public Media Summit Feb. 24 in Arlington, Va. Jane Oates, assistant secretary of employment and training administration with the U.S. Department of Labor, was the most vocal of the panel as she urged public television to collaborate more with local and state government workforce-training programs as a way of sharing key information to the nation’s legions of unemployed workers. “Think how much better we could do if you joined with us. Everybody listens to you,” Oates said, pointing to the proven workforce-training success of Vegas PBS as an example of what other stations could accomplish.

Four bidders express interest in latest sale of KCSM-TV

Bidding has closed on the most recent round of offers in the sale of KCSM-TV, licensed to San Mateo Community College District in California. Potential buyers are Public TV Financing, an arm of Independent Public Media, a nonprofit working to preserve noncommercial spectrum; KMTP-TV, a multicultural noncom channel licensed to Minority Television Project Inc. in San Francisco; the Oriental Culture and Media Center of Southern California, a nonprofit promoting communication among different cultures; and Locus Point Networks, a spectrum speculator that is also buying Towson University’s Class A television channel just outside Baltimore. KCSM went on the market in December 2011, due to a projected $800,000 deficit. Trustees rejected two finalists in November 2012, citing lack of proof of financing. A new Request for Proposals went out the next month, for buyers to either acquire the station’s assets or agree to subsidize its operation by the district and participate “in some capacity” in the FCC’s upcoming spectrum auction.

CNBC buys Nightly Business Report; show leaving Miami

Nightly Business Report, the public TV business news show that has repeatedly shed staff during nearly three tumultuous years under two owners, has been sold again – this time to financial news powerhouse CNBC. The cable network will produce the weeknightly series exclusively for public TV stations from its headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., effective March 4. The show’s bureaus in New York and Washington and its headquarters at Miami’s WPBT will shut down. The sale brings another round of changes to the staff who produce and appear on the show. Anchor Susie Gharib will stay with NBR, but co-anchor Tom Hudson is exiting.

Penn State announces Ted Krichels’ resignation from WPSU

Ted Krichels, associate vice president for public media and general manager of WPSU at Penn State University and a thought leader on public broadcasting ethics, is resigning his station post effective Feb. 28. A short statement from the university said Krichels, a 30-year pubcasting veteran, will “focus on consulting opportunities and independent projects within the public media industry.” In addition to his leadership at the station, Krichels led work to establish the Local Public Media Organizations Code of Editorial Integrity, an update of the 1984 Wingspread Conference’s Statement of Editorial Principles that has been under development for several years. Krichels has been at WPSU since 1999.

Nielsen will expand its definition of TV ratings by start of fall 2013 season

The Nielsen Co., the stalwart television-ratings tracker, announced Feb. 20 that it plans to track viewing on additional devices beginning in September. The news was reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Among the media Nielsen will include are Xboxes and over-the-top devices that stream programming from services such as Amazon, according to the Reporter. In January, PBS signed a deal to bring some of its local and national programming to Xbox and over-the-top device Roku.

Oscar-nominated POV filmmaker detained at airport

Palestinian documentary filmmaker Emad Burnat, whose Oscar-nominated film 5 Broken Cameras received funding from PBS’s POV, was detained Feb. 20 at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving in the country for Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. The news that Burnat had been held for one and a half hours was first tweeted by friend and fellow documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. Burnat later released a statement confirming that he and his family had been detained and threatened with deportation and that they had been forced to provide proof that he had been nominated for an Oscar. “Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank,” Burnat said.

Judge denies New York City’s request for outtakes from Ken Burns’s Central Park Five

More than five months after subpoenaing notes and outtakes from The Central Park Five, a crime documentary about the 1989 arrest and conviction of five innocent young men over the rape and assault of a jogger in Central Park, lawyers for New York City were rebuffed in their attempts to gain hold of the film’s unused footage for evidence in an ongoing federal lawsuit. The decision came on the evening of Feb. 19, as reported by the New York Times. Co-directed by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah and longtime Burns producer David McMahon, based on extensive research from Sarah, the film was released in theaters in fall 2012 to critical acclaim and will air on PBS in April. The city had accused the filmmakers of biased reporting when it filed the Sept.

Downton Abbey season finale nets 8.2 million viewers

The third-season finale of Downton Abbey drew 8.2 million viewers for its Feb. 17 PBS broadcast, the network and WGBH announced Feb. 19. The numbers come from Nielsen and gave the episode a 5.2 household rating. The episode came in with 50 percent more viewers than the season two finale in 2012 and also drew 300,000 more fans than this year’s season premiere.

Current Reader Survey closes on Friday

Current has come a long way in the past two years, but we haven’t stopped thinking about how much more we’d like to do. We’re asking readers to share their insights on our news service and public media coverage by participating in our 2013 online Reader Survey, which closes at the end of this week. Please take a few minutes to tell us how you use Current and what we could do to make our publication and website even more useful in the years ahead. Your feedback will guide us as we make decisions about how to focus our editorial resources and which new products and services would be most valuable to the public media community. You can access our short survey online here:

If you have any questions or want to give feedback directly, contact Kathleen Unwin at 877-745-8776 X. 1

Thanks from the entire staff for sharing your thoughts, and for your support of Current.

Wednesday forum to explore public media arts coverage

The latest in an ongoing series of Public Media Futures forums will spotlight public broadcasting’s work surrounding the arts. The Feb. 20 roundtable discussion, “The Future of Arts and Culture on Public Media,” will be hosted by the USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy in downtown Washington, D.C. The center is co-sponsoring the forums with American University’s School of Communication, publisher of Current. Confirmed speakers and participants include Alyce Myatt, director of media arts for the National Endowment for the Arts and a former PBS programming v.p.; Roger LaMay, g.m. of WXPN-FM in Philadelphia; Vincent Curren, CPB c.o.o.; Sue Schardt, executive director of Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) and Maxie Jackson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Adam Clayton Powell III, senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center, will moderate the discussion.

MPT collects Super Bowl wager winnings from KQED

Maryland Public Television can thank the Baltimore Ravens this week for helping the station win a supply of sourdough breads and chocolate. The station laid some local cuisine on the line with San Francisco’s KQED as part of a friendly wager leading up to the Feb. 3 Super Bowl match between the Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. If Baltimore won, KQED promised to ship the bread and chocolate to MPT. If San Francisco won, MPT would send crab cakes and Bergers cookies, a Balmer fave, across the country.

KCRW and McSweeney’s partner up for The Organist

KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., has struck the opening chords for The Organist, a monthly arts-and-culture podcast from McSweeney’s. The program is the latest collaboration between the station and the irreverent San Francisco–based publishing house, founded in 1998 by acclaimed author and screenwriter Dave Eggers. Produced by the editors of the McSweeney’s-published culture magazine The Believer, The Organist will produce 10 hourlong episodes per year covering a wide gamut of pop culture, with the help of some famous voices. The inaugural episode launched Feb. 1.

Frontline, California Watch receive Polk Awards

Frontline and the nonprofit investigative newsroom California Watch each won George Polk Awards, the prestigious journalism honors presented annually by Long Island University. Correspondent Martin Smith and producer Michael Kirk of the pubTV investigative icon series won for coverage of “Money, Power and Wall Street.” The judges said, “In blunt, first-hand accounts, viewers were given an unprecedented look inside key decisions that affected the lives of ordinary people around the country and a play-by-play road map of what ultimately would shatter the global economy.” Assisting Smith and Kirk were producers Marcela Gaviria, Mike Wiser and Jim Gilmore. Reporter Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch won for his “Broken Shield” series, for what the judges called his “dogged persistence in exposing how California’s Office of Protective Services does an abysmal job of curbing abuse at state clinics.”

Downton e.p. speaks out on PBS’s fall premiere schedule

Downton Abbey Executive Producer Gareth Neame tells Entertainment Weekly that PBS’s decision to delay the season opener of Masterpiece Classic hit from September, when it airs in England, to January is “unrealistic” — yet “sensible and pragmatic.” (Here’s the interview, with this spoiler alert warning: If you haven’t yet watched the Season 3 finale that aired Sunday, back away now because he talks about it in detail.)

Here’s what Neame specifically said about PBS’s scheduling decision, which is still being debated at headquarters in Crystal City:

“[T]the idea that in this day and age people have to wait four months before watching a show that has aired in another part of the world is clearly unrealistic. I think this is one of the first really big test cases that just shows this doesn’t work. “Now all of that said, this is not a complaint about PBS and their programming, because they have very, very tough competition and by airing in January, as you may have observed from the ratings . .

Supervisor of Pacifica elections points to flaws in system

The elections supervisor for the boards of Pacifica’s five radio stations has recommended that the network revamp its process for selecting board members because the current system is “too costly, time consuming, factionalized and factionalizing.”

In a report on the latest round of elections, which concluded in January several months behind schedule, Pacifica National Elections Supervisor Terry Bouricius described numerous flaws in a process that’s been in effect for nearly a decade. Pacifica’s elections favor “ego-driven individuals,” he wrote, and bring in votes from roughly 10 percent of the total membership of the five stations. The small percentage of those who do vote are likely not representative of the whole. In addition, station staffers complain that on-air programming required for the elections is unpopular with listeners; stations must broadcast statements by local candidates and call-in shows featuring the candidates. The stations’ donor records are not adequately maintained to support the election process, Bouricius wrote.

Pacifica policy to keep enemies off boards draws ire

The Pacifica National Board passed a resolution barring individuals who have clashed with the network’s leadership from election to the boards of its five stations, a move that critics decried as a political witch hunt. The resolution, which passed Jan. 24 by a vote of 11–10, denies seats on Local Station Boards to three classes of people:

“Individuals whose actions have been declared by a court of law to be breaches of fiduciary duty, or breaches of the duty of loyalty or the duty of care;”
“Individuals who have been separated involuntarily from foundation employment for cause;” and
“Individuals who have been banned from station premises due to threatening behavior or creating an unsafe environment for others.”

Anyone denied candidacy for board service can appeal to the PNB. Such measures are common among other nonprofit boards, says Bill Crosier, vice chair of the PNB. “I can’t imagine any other nonprofit letting people in one of those categories be on their boards,” he says.