The Association of Public Television Stations handed out Champions of Public Broadcasting awards during its Public Media Summit in Washington, D.C., Feb 24–26, recognizing Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) and Oregon Rep. Greg Walden (R). APTS also gave EDGE Awards to Twin Cities Public Television and New Jersey’s NJTV and recognized individuals with Advocacy Awards.
Mikulski, who replaced recently deceased Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has been an ardent defender of public broadcasting in the Senate and was a vocal defender of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program before it was eliminated in 2011.
As chair of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet, Walden has helped secure federal aid for public broadcasters to help defer costs related to spectrum legislation. As he accepted his award, he told summit attendees that increased competition from cable and digital channels has made public TV less relevant to television viewers, and he suggested that public broadcasters support cuts to government-entitlement programs in order to salvage their own funding.
APTS recognized public television stations for innovative use of technology with its EDGE Awards. NJTV was honored for its nightly statewide news program NJ Today with Mike Schneider, which broadcasts on-air and online in high definition and is pubcasting’s only news program covering all of New Jersey. NJ Today delivered information to New Jersey residents in the aftermath of October 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, broadcasting live reports from the state’s shore as well as from Gov. Chris Christie’s press conferences.
Twin Cities Public Television received an EDGE Award for its Minnesota Channel, a full-time channel dedicated to airing content from local nonprofits and community groups.
APTS also recognized individuals for their efforts to advance pubcasting’s funding requests and legislative priorities with policy makers. Mark Leonard, g.m. of Illinois Public Media, received a 2013 Station Advocacy Award for his work on the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting campaign and the APTS Leadership Council. Leonard is also president of the Illinois Public Broadcast Council and a board member of the national University Licensees’ Association.
Ruby Calvert, g.m. and former program director of Wyoming PBS and a PBS Board member, also received a Station Advocacy Award. Calvert was recognized for her work to secure state funding for her network and for her civic leadership on behalf of several statewide organizations. Calvert served on the Community Resource Board for the Wyoming Job Corps, the Academy Appointment Committee for Wyoming, and the Advisory Board of the Wyoming Land Trust, among other groups. Calvert plans to retire from Wyoming PBS in June. She has been with the station since its founding in 1983.
In addition, APTS presented the 2013 David J. Brugger Grassroots Advocacy Award to Jo Ellen Chatham, a lay member of the APTS Board, in recognition of her outspoken support of public broadcasting. The co-chair of the PBS SoCal board of trustees is a prominent California Republican who served as the first vice chair of the Republican Party of Orange County.
Following the first 2012 presidential debate, during which Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he would cut public broadcasting funding even though he liked Big Bird, Chatham penned an op-ed for USA Today titled “Republicans for Big Bird” that was widely distributed online.