Tuesday roundup: Sun columnist criticizes PBS; Pacifica board censures directors

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The loss of British programs, such as the final episodes of Poirot, to online subscription services spells doom for PBS, a columnist says. (Photo: ITV)

• The absence of high-profile British shows Poirot and Happy Valley among PBS’s offerings is a sign of the network’s struggle as it competes with subscription-based viewing services, writes Baltimore Sun media columnist David Zurawik. “It’s awkward and a little pathetic to see public TV in such decline,” Zurawik writes, noting Maryland Public TV’s recent airing of a promotional special for ITV’s Poirot even though the show’s fans will have to use Acorn TV’s online subscription service to watch the final episodes. The first season of Happy Valley, from the makers of the PBS series Last Tango in Halifax, is streaming exclusively on Netflix.

• Pacifica’s internal battles continue, with a majority of board members voting Aug. 14 to censure two other board members, according to the Save KPFA blog. Eleven board members censured Heather Gray and Richard Uzzell for giving Summer Reese, Pacifica’s former executive director, a revised employment contract that waived a background check and implemented other changes. The contract was voided in May by an Alameda County Superior Court judge. “Their action, the ill will and controversy it caused, and the continuing costs to defend against a lawsuit in which the false contract was used have caused serious damage to the Foundation,” wrote the board majority in their motion.

• Boston’s WGBH has optioned screen rights to Victoria Kann’s bestselling children’s series Pinkalicious, with Curious George EP Dorothea Gillim overseeing production. The network announced the acquisition Monday. The books have sold more than 17 million copies. “Pinkalicious is a character kids really connect with – she’s an everyday girl who’s confident, knows what she likes, and fancies herself special enough to wear any tiara and wand in her very colorful imagination,” Gillim said.

• Ken Burns’s name on a PBS project usually guarantees plenty of funding, but his name on a crowdfunded venture is another story. The team behind ChronoScribe, an in-development online portal that gathers history, news and personal research for educational purposes, is collaborating with the PBS filmmaker and advertised his name prominently on an Indiegogo campaign asking for $100,000 to help build the site. With less than two days to go, ChronoScribe had made less than 15 percent of its goal.

Correction: Poirot is produced by ITV, not BBC, as misreported in an earlier version of this article.

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