Rep. Lamborn once again targets funding for NPR on Capitol Hill

Republican Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn today reintroduced legislation to kill federal funding for NPR. Its language is identical to his bill that passed the House in 2011, which prohibited stations from using CPB funds to acquire programming or pay NPR dues. That bill never made it to the floor of the Senate. “At a time when millions of federal works are being furloughed, schoolchildren are barred from visiting the White House, and many military training flights are grounded to save money, it is unacceptable that taxpayers are still on the hook for millions of dollars each year to subsidize National Public Radio,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, it was highly inappropriate for NPR to move into a lavish new headquarters building partly paid for by taxpayers, many of whom continue to struggle under the worst economy since the Great Depression.”

Arizona PBS installing seven rural translators

Arizona PBS in Phoenix is bringing seven new digital translators online between June 24 and late September, extending its service to rural areas of the state. The repeater transmitters will bring HD service and extended channel access to viewers in and around Prescott, Flagstaff, Cottonwood, Sedona, Globe, Miami, Williams, Snowflake, Show Low and Yuma. Once initial work is complete, the station plans to request FCC permission to maximize coverage of its digital signal, said Karl Voss, chief broadcast engineer at KAET. For example, the new transmitter in Flagstaff will initially broadcast at 15 watts but go up to 100 watts when the station maximizes its digital signal. Grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Public Television Digital Transition Grant Program, CPB’s Digital Distribution Fund and the Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation covered the $410,000 cost of buying and installing the translators.

Yore to depart Marketplace as American Public Media downsizes

J.J. Yore, a veteran producer credited as a creator of the public radio show Marketplace, was one of three senior executives riffed June 17 from American Public Media, the Minnesota-based company that produces the series. Yore, who rose up through the production ranks two years ago to become v.p. and g.m. of the weeknightly business and economics show, will be succeeded by Deborah Clark, e.p. who steps into the role of v.p.

Clark has worked for Marketplace over two stints since 1995, and APM expects her to move the show forward “business as usual,” Mardi Larson, spokesperson, wrote in an email confirming the layoffs. “We thank J.J. for his valuable and lasting contributions to our company’s mission and audience service, and we wish him well in his next career opportunity.”

“I am disappointed, and I’m surprised, but I’m not angry,” Yore said in an interview last week. “This is the thing I’ve been associated the longest with in my life. But I am now looking forward to figuring out what will come next.”

APM also eliminated the positions of Mary Pat Ladner, v.p. of marketing, and Kathy Golbuff, v.p. of underwriting.

National Datacast closing ‘substantial portion’ of operations

National Datacast Inc., which since 1988 has leased data-transmission space to commercial clients on participating public television stations’ analog channels, is closing “a substantial portion of its business operations” by June 30, according to the PBS fiscal 2014 budget. PBS Enterprises, a for-profit subsidiary of PBS, owns 88.58 percent of NDI. Denise Wise, NDI chief financial officer, said the company is “exploring opportunities to achieve the most value from assets held by the company,” which include investments in technology firms. Wise declined to provide information about those investments or reveal the number of pubTV clients or size of the NDI staff. Wise said details on the future of NDI may become available “over the next few months.”

Jacqueline Weiss, NDI chief executive officer and co-founder, declined Current’s request for an interview. “In this new phase of the company,” Wise wrote in an email, “the NDI Board of Directors will play a key role in evaluating a range of options as we move forward and chart the course for our future.” Board Chair Lloyd Wright, president of WFYI in Indianapolis, also declined comment.

Next Masterpiece drama set in hospital gynecology unit in 1961

Masterpiece and ITV Studios, production home to Downton Abbey, will partner again on Breathless, a medical drama set in a London hospital’s busy gynecology unit in 1961, the two announced last week. According to a press release, “Breathless follows the lives of a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital, a world in which everything and everyone has their place. But underneath this veneer simmers a cauldron of lies and guilty secrets, driven by love, ambition and sex.” Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece e.p., said in the announcement that “television dramas that tell good stories about womens’ lives in the 20th century are endlessly interesting to me, and apparently to lots of other people — look at the appeal of Call the Midwife and Mad Men. We’re all fascinated by the enormous changes that happened just a short time ago.

Preparing public media newsrooms to cover local crises

Crisis coverage will stress several layers of a public station’s operating systems — from newsroom layout to editorial decision-making; from the flexibility of web-hosting services to interpersonal relationships among key staff members, each of whom will be asked to step up and work under conditions they have never faced.

Neil Diamond to debut song on Capitol Fourth honoring Marathon bombing victims

On A Capitol Fourth, the annual musical celebration of Independence Day on PBS, Neil Diamond will premiere a tribute song for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. All proceeds from the sale of the tune, “Freedom Song (They’ll Never Take Us Down”), will benefit One Fund Boston, formed to assist those victims and their families, and the Wounded Warrior Project, which supports injured service members. “I was inspired to devote myself to the creation of a new song which expressed my love for this country and its two greatest assets: the spirit of its people and the freedoms it has afforded us all by law,” Diamond said. A Capitol Fourth is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and is one of PBS’s most popular programs. Last year, the concert averaged 6.3 million viewers, a 3.8 household rating, according to Nielsen.

The program is also heard live in stereo over NPR member stations nationwide.