Supreme Court declines to review ban on political ads on public TV

The Supreme Court rejected a request Monday from the Minority Television Project (MTVP), licensee of public TV station KMTP in San Francisco, to review a circuit court ruling that upheld a ban on political and public-issue commercials on public television. The justices turned down the case without comment, allowing the December 2013 decision of the 9th Circuit Court to stand, which upheld barring the advertisements. In its petition, MTVP asked the court to overturn its 1969 decision in Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. FCC, which allowed the government to restrict some broadcast content. That aspect of the case prompted amicus briefs from organizations including the libertarian-oriented Cato Institute.

GSU considers options to keep student-run WRAS programming on FM

Georgia State University announced Friday that it is searching for a new FM frequency for student-hosted music programs, which will soon be cut from daytime hours on GSU’s WRAS-FM. Starting Sunday, GSU will air public radio news and talk programming provided by Georgia Public Broadcasting from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., replacing the student music shows. The agreement, announced May 6, has drawn criticism from GSU students and WRAS fans. In its announcement, the university said it has hired engineers and media consultants to look into broadcasting the student-produced content on an FM translator. That idea was first suggested by a group of WRAS supporters known as Album 88 Alumni in a proposal sent to the university Wednesday. The deal between GSU and GPB included providing a 24-hour HD Radio stream for the student station, but few people own the radios needed to pick up the digital signals.

Editor says merger in St. Louis has boosted web traffic, strengthened reporting

The organization resulting from the merger of the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio is already realizing benefits from the union, six months after it took effect. That’s according to the editor of the combined news organization, who gave a progress report on the collaboration June 20 at the annual Public Radio News Directors Inc. conference in Arlington, Va. “It’s not easy, day-to-day, but it’s paid off,” said Margaret Freivogel, who also founded the Beacon.

Pubcasters welcome Supreme Court decision against Aereo

PBS and New York’s WNET joined major commercial networks Wednesday in hailing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the business model of Internet TV service Aereo in violation of the 1967 Copyright Act. In a 6-3 decision, the high court held that Aereo’s business model of charging subscribers for access to an individual antenna and DVR service for over-the-air broadcasts violates the 1967 Copyright Act. The majority found Aereo’s operations more akin to those of a cable company, regardless of the technology it employs, binding the company to the same rules governing broadcast transmissions. Those rules require cable companies to pay networks for the content they transmit. The majority comprised Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

New Hampshire Public Radio acquiring small classical station WCNH-FM

New Hampshire Public Radio is purchasing WCNH-FM, a 250-watt classical station that has been broadcasting from the state network’s Concord studios for two years. WCNH’s owner, Highland Community Broadcasting, was formed in 2000 to apply for a low-power FM license to air classical programming when NHPR transitioned from that format to news and talk, according to Scott McPherson, NHPR’s operations and finance v.p. Highland later applied for and received a full-power license in a 2007 FCC filing window. In 2012, WCNH asked to use NHPR’s studio and automation equipment to produce and air content. In exchange, NHPR aired WCNH’s classical content on its Classical New Hampshire HD2 channel. Within the last year, WCNH offered to sell that license to NHPR.

Frontline receives nearly $6 million in two grants

Frontline, public television’s investigative news showcase, announced two major donations Wednesday, including the largest grant from individuals in its 30-year history. Most of the $5 million from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler, longtime supporters of producing station WGBH, will create a reporting endowment for the program to ensure the series’ long-term sustainability. The remaining $1.5 million will support existing programming and digital efforts over four years. Meanwhile, a two-year, $800,000 gift from the Ford Foundation will back a new cross-platform Enterprise Journalism Group. The funds will pay for initial recruits for the in-house group of digital journalists and producers.