Downton Abbey merchandise line coming this year, executive producer says

Gareth Neame, Downton Abbey e.p., told CNBC that the hit Edwardian drama on Masterpiece Classic will offer a new line of merchandise this year. “We’ll be working across an entire range of products coming out this year,” he said. “From fashion, apparel and homeware and furniture to wallpapers, beauty products and stationary.”

Neame said the show has been “extremely cautious” about developing and selling such items. “In retail terms, the first series launched the program and the brand, the second year ratified it and the show didn’t even hit its high point in the U.S. until this year when series three ended in the U.S.,” Nearne said. “It’s very rare for a British drama to have this much retail potential and merchandizing value.”

CNBC noted that the show’s popularity “has translated into a boom for U.K. retailers who have reported massive sales of arm-length gloves, fur capes, cravats and waistcoats that the Edwardian characters wear in the series. Even the old-fashioned liquor sherry has enjoyed a 15 percent rise in sales according to retail chain Marks and Spencer.”

CPB Board selects Mitchelson as inspector general to replace Konz

Mary Mitchelson, deputy inspector general at the Department of Education Office of Inspector General, will take over as CPB inspector general June 3. She replaces retiring CPB IG Kenneth Konz. The CPB Board selected Mitchelson for the position, which is responsible for promoting economy, efficiency, and effectiveness; preventing fraud, waste and mismanagement in CPB programs and operations; and independently auditing CPB’s internal operations and external grantees. CPB Board Chair Patty Cahill said in Monday’s announcement that Mitchelson “brings a high level of integrity and extensive managerial skills” to the post. Mitchelson has been with the Department of Education’s IG office since 2000.

PubTV urges commission to drop ‘OET-69’ proposal

CPB, PBS and the Association of Public Television Stations are jointly opposing a proposal by the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) to use a new software program to analyze television coverage and interference data. The proposal was floated by the commission in February and intended to update the analytical tools the commission will use in preparing for the 2014 broadcast spectrum auctions. In a letter filed with the FCC early this month, the three pubcasting organizations said the proposal would adversely affect many public TV stations by reducing the size of their service areas. Pubcasters were responding to a request for comments on “OET-69,” an FCC bulletin that described the methodology used by TVStudy, the software that the commission proposes to use to analyze coverage and interference among full-service digital and Class A television stations. The current software was implemented in the 1990s for use as stations transitioned from analog to digital broadcasting.

Live from Boston: A marathon of coverage

Edgar B. Herwick III, a features reporter for WGBH, was enjoying his field assignment on that cool, sunny Monday, interviewing runners as they triumphantly crossed the finish line of the April 15 Boston Marathon.

Moyers celebrates 200K on Facebook with thank-you video

Veteran pubcasting journalist Bill Moyers today hit 200,000 likes on his Facebook page, home to his public affairs show Moyers & Co. Program spokesman Joel Schwartzberg told Current that figure is more than PBS NewsHour, Nova and American Experience, “and catching up quickly on Frontline,”with its 230,000. Moyers “has been so involved in our digital strategy and is so thrilled” that he created a special video to say thank you to his fans, Schwartzberg said. “With numbers like that,” Moyers says on the video, “we could easily storm several castles, or the Bastille; we could tilt at an army of windmills or sell out the Super Bowl a couple of times over. Better to put all that collective people power to work for social justice, to lift our voices against inequality and the money and corruption that foul democracy.”

NEA announces 2013 media arts grants; OVEE and AIR projects among recipients

The National Endowment of the Arts announced $4.68 million in funding to 76 media-arts projects April 23, including new grantees such as the Online Video Engagement Experience (OVEE) developed with CPB funding, a new initiative from the Association of Independents in Radio called Spectrum America and Sonic Trace, a multimedia production at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., that was created through AIR’s recently concluded Localore project. For a second year, the NEA will continue to support projects that use digital technologies to go beyond traditional broadcasting platforms. In its announcement, the endowment highlighted a $100,000 grant to OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local station content. The Independent Television Service developed the technology with support from CPB. AIR also received $100,000 for Spectrum America, a project that will pair media artists with public stations as they experiment with “new approaches to storytelling.”

Sonic Trace, a co-production at KCRW initiated through AIR’s 2012–2013 Localore initiative, received a direct NEA grant of $75,000 to continue exploring the experience of Latino immigrants. NEA also backed digital media projects at NPR, providing $100,000 for music programming and multimedia content.

President Obama chooses SCETV chair as third nomination to CPB Board

President Barack Obama on Thursday nominated Brent Nelsen, a political science professor at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., to a term on the CPB board expiring in January 2016. Nelsen would replace former Vice Chair Gay Hart Gaines, an interior designer and civic activist whose term expired in 2010. He is chair of the Educational Television Commission, which oversees SCETV in South Carolina. This is the president’s third recent CPB nomination. In February, he selected Los Angeles attorney Bruce Ramer to serve another term, and chose educator Jannette Lake Dates to replace former Board Chair Ernest Wilson, whose term expired in 2010.