One of the smallest independent public broadcasting operations in the country will move into new facilities this fall under its expanding partnership with a local community college. For more than 40 years, KEDT-TV/FM in Corpus Christi, Texas, has been housed in a strip mall in what was originally meant to be a temporary location. Its unusual agreement with the city’s Del Mar College preserves its independence as a community pubcasting licensee while allowing the two institutions to share content and a state-of-the art broadcast and production facility, the new KEDT Center for Educational Broadcasting. Under construction after a ceremonial groundbreaking last fall, the center will be located on a prime site adjacent and connected to Del Mar College’s Center for Economic Development, and offer amenities such as an outdoor performance plaza wired for live broadcasts. The two institutions have plans to work closely together on content going forward, in addition to sharing the space and digital television equipment.
PBS has set the lineup for an upcoming fundraising test that will use a full week’s schedule of first-run National Program Service shows. Seventeen stations will take part in the experiment, running Nov. 28 through Dec. 5. PBS is trying to determine whether using core series, rather than pledge specials that veer from the regular lineup, will lead to a more stable member and donor base and perhaps even prompt more major gifts.
Acorn TV, the upstart streaming service specializing in British television, is still a tiny operation, with about 115,000 paid subscribers. Nonetheless, its fast growth is causing outsized concern at PBS and Masterpiece, public television’s longstanding home for British drama. Brewing tensions came to a head over rights to the final three episodes in David Suchet’s marathon 70-program portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. As a result of the rift, Acorn TV premiered the episodes to its streaming subscribers in August and syndicated them directly to local public TV stations, with Masterpiece nowhere in the picture. The broadcast window for the finale’s broadcast opens Nov.
Three years ago, a delegation from Kansas City Public Television, including the board chair, trekked out to San Diego’s KPBS to evaluate how that station’s extensive radio, television and online news operation might be adapted in Kansas City. A few months later, an influential visitor to Kansas City, PBS NewsHour anchor Jim Lehrer, urged KCPT leaders to act on their nascent ambitions to develop a locally focused news service for the community. Over dinner at the restaurant Lidia’s, Lehrer “kind of threw the gauntlet down,” recalled Kliff Kuehl, KCPT president, challenging executives to step up the station’s commitment to news coverage. But the proposal to transform KCPT into a true local news hub remained mostly an aspiration until a surprise major grant from the Hale Family Foundation arrived in July 2013. Only then was the station able to turn its ambitions into something substantive and seemingly sustainable.
“Impact” is a feel-good media buzzword of the moment, increasingly required by the funders of many projects and invoked by some PTV stations, news organizations and documentary producers as key to demonstrating the social good derived from their work. But defining the concept and then measuring whether a media project has demonstrated its value remain elusive challenges for many. During “Understanding Impact,” a two-day symposium convened last month at American University in Washington, D.C., participants explored a number of the ad hoc systems for tracking impact that are taking form. Organizations including the Center for Investigative Reporting in Emeryville, Calif., and KETC, the Nine Network of St. Louis, have developed their own methodologies and hired staff members to measure the impact of their work.