Susan Lacy to exit PBS for HBO; cites funding struggles

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. Susan Lacy, creator and e.p. of American Masters at WNET in New York, is leaving PBS for HBO, the New York Times is reporting. She will produce biographical films for the subscription cable channel’s documentary division
Financing was often inadequate for American Masters projects, the Times noted, and Lacy found herself “having to find money to supplement the funding for each film,” she said. Money will not be a problem at HBO, she noted. “And I have to admit that was a big draw in taking this job.”
In April 2012, American Masters suffered an 87.5 percent cut in funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, receiving just $50,000.

CPB Inspector General’s report recommends penalties for WJFF-FM

A new report by the CPB Inspector General’s office released Sept. 12 and posted online today recommends that the corporation penalize WJFF-FM in Jeffersonville, N.Y., for failure to comply with various regulations dating to November 2011. The report was sparked by complaints to the IG’s office in March from several supporters of a canceled news and cultural magazine, Making Waves. After the public outcry over the cancellation, Winston Clark, g.m., resigned in April, and all but one board member quit soon after. The report determines that WJFF didn’t air quarterly announcements for open meetings; had no evidence that announcements of open meetings for its Community Advisory Board (CAB) or Board of Trustees were made at least seven days in advance; didn’t maintain CAB member attendance at meetings; didn’t always provide reasons for closing meetings to the public; and didn’t have written policies regarding open meetings and other transparency requirements.

Obama to nominate Scripps s.v.p. to CPB Board

President Obama on Sept. 12 announced his intent to nominate David Arroyo to the CPB Board. Arroyo is s.v.p. for legal affairs at Scripps Networks Interactive, where he has worked since 2004. Previously he was an associate at the global law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.  He is also a former chair of the Board of Latino Justice (formerly the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund) and in 2012 was recognized by the Imagen Foundation as one of the most influential Latinos in entertainment. Arroyo’s nomination, Obama’s sixth for the CPB governing body, requires Senate confirmation.

Localism emphasis poses risk

Of all the complex and potentially fateful decisions faced by public radio program directors as they navigate the emergence of multiplatform distribution, one of the most significant is the drive to “go local” and produce more local programs, especially news and information. This push signals a strategic shift for public radio, with potentially enormous consequences for growth or decline. Audience 2010, one of a series of landmark research reports on programming trends published in the previous decade, reported that much of the credit for the growth of public radio listenership could be traced to a shift “away from local production toward network production, away from music-based content toward news, information and entertainment.” That shift was extraordinarily successful, representing two decades of impressive audience expansion and financial growth at a time when other parts of the radio industry struggled. Now, it appears that program decision-makers are changing course. But why would dozens of stations move off the path that worked so well and choose another approach that, viewed through the lens of audience research, would seem to be both more costly and less powerful in attracting listenership?

Redefining public media for the future

Public media is made up of hundreds of storefronts in communities large and small, each of which has a unique window into America, its people and their stories. These storefronts — local public TV and radio stations — have built public media’s greatest asset: our unique relationships with listeners and viewers, local businesses and governments, and anchor institutions in the arts, philanthropy, education and social welfare. Yet at Public Radio Capital we increasingly hear from public media executives facing competitive and financial challenges that threaten their stations’ economic foundations and thus their effectiveness. Let’s face it: The public media business model isn’t changing. It has already changed in dramatic ways.

PBS programs win three at 2013 Creative Arts Emmys

American Masters and Downton Abbey led the opening round of the annual Primetime Emmys Sept. 15 by claiming three Creative Arts Emmys for PBS. American Masters, a production of New York’s WNET, topped the category for outstanding documentary or nonfiction series. Credit for the Emmy went to Susan Lacy, executive producer; Julie Sacks, supervising producer; Prudence Glass, series producer; and Jessica Levin, producer. The Emmy for direction in nonfiction programming was awarded to Robert Trachtenberg for his direction of the American Masters biography “Mel Brooks: Make a Noise.”

The Key raises WXPN’s profile as valued music curator

With The Key, we’re able to better reflect the diversity of the Philadelphia music scene, give local bands a platform to showcase their music in multimedia formats and position XPN even more centrally in the market conversation around local music.

Flatow moves Science Friday to PRI distribution

Science Friday, the weekly NPR series hosted by Ira Flatow, is pairing with Public Radio International in a new distribution deal to take effect in January 2014. The agreement calls for Science Friday, a signature element of NPR’s science coverage since its 1991 launch, to continue as a weekly radio broadcast under PRI distribution. In addition, Flatow and his producers will collaborate with PRI series The World, The Takeaway and Studio 360 to develop multi-platform content around science topics. “We’re excited to work with PRI to expand their science and technology coverage,” Flatow said in a PRI news release. “PRI shares our vision of serving the public by telling compelling stories about timely issues.

Saul Landau, investigative filmmaker, dies at 77

Saul Landau, a filmmaker who made investigative documentaries for PBS, died Sept. 9 from cancer. He was 77. Landau’s death was announced by the Institute for Policy Studies, where he was a fellow for four decades. He made more than 40 films over his lifetime.

Pubcaster’s memoir details creative early years at WQED

A Secretly Handicapped Man, out in October, is not only the story of Norbert Nathanson’s place in the history of public broadcasting, but also the tale of his struggle with his own body and society’s attitude toward him: He was born without feet and one hand.

Departing PBS digital head Seiken will aim to transform London’s Telegraph

Jason Seiken, PBS’s outgoing head of digital media, soon will oversee all editorial operations across Britain’s Telegraph Media Group, with editors of both the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph reporting directly to him, according to MediaWeek. The newspapers recently restructured their editorial staff of 550, laying off 80 print-based journalists and recruiting 50 digitally focused positions, MediaWeek reported. Seiken, who starts next month, will work to transform the Telegraph into a “fully integrated, entrepreneurial multimedia news organization.” “This appointment is vital to the future of our business and in achieving our ambition to become the foremost English-language multimedia news and content provider,” said Murdoch MacLennan, chief executive of Telegraph Media Group. “There could not be a better person for this crucial role than Jason Seiken.”