CPB will have not just one but two longtime journalists as ombudsmen, the corporation announced April 5. Ken Bode, former host of the PBS staple Washington Week in Review, and William Schulz, retired executive editor of Reader’s Digest, will monitor public broadcasting content and serve as liaisons for complaints. Appointed for two-year terms, they will cover journalistic programming whether CPB puts money into it or not, but Chairman Ken Tomlinson, formerly a longtime colleague of Schulz’s at Reader’s Digest, told Current they won’t weigh in on entertainment and educational programs — the Buster lesbian-mommies flap, for example. The ombudsmen will initiate their own reports and consider concerns raised by the public and government officials. They will decide which broadcasts or complaints to discuss and post their reports on CPB.org.
The Association of Public Television Stations has struck a deal with the
cable industry in which major cable operators will guarantee to carry as
many as four program streams from all public television stations in their
markets once the digital TV transition is complete. Public TV regards multicast carriage as essential if it is to take full advantage of digital broadcasting capabilities. Cable companies now are required to carry only stations’ primary video feeds—analog or digital—in the present period before the DTV transition is done. The agreement, yet to be ratified by stations, would be triggered when stations give back their analog spectrum. It will not affect multicast deals that stations or PBS have already negotiated with cable operators.
With Bob Edwards’ decision to leave NPR for a satellite radio company,
public radio is debating again a highly ponderable question: Should it embrace
satellite as a distributor for its programs or fear it as a competitor for
listeners and revenue? Edwards’ new weekday morning gig, The Bob Edwards Show, will
start the morning for a new channel, XM Public Radio. The one-hour show will
originate weekdays at 8 a.m. Eastern time and will repeat at 9 a.m. The channel
launches Sept. 1; Edwards’ show debuts Oct. 4.
A long-anticipated report on public television by the General Accounting
Office, released May 21, advises Congress that CPB illegally diverted
money intended for stations into the now-defunct Television Future Fund. The report, “Issues Related to Federal Funding of Public Television by the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” says CPB operated outside its authority
when it took money from the part of its appropriation that Congress designated
for station grants and used it for Television Future Fund projects. Between 1996 and this year, the Future Fund made grants for R&D projects
to improve public TV operations and fundraising. But GAO said CPB can’t legally
make selective grants from funds allocated for station grants. CPB President Bob Coonrod rebutted that conclusion in a statement printed
as an appendix in the report.