APTS, cablers craft digital carriage deal

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.

Edwards’ jump to XM renews satellite debate

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.

CPB’s TV Future Fund was illegal, GAO finds

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.