Justice Dept. asks Ninth Circuit to reconsider pubcasting ad decision

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking the Ninth Circuit Court to reconsider its April decision that a federal law banning public television and radio stations from running political advertising was unconstitutional. In its June 29 filing, the Justice Department argued that the finding “threatens the fundamental nature of public broadcasting.”

In Minority Television Project v. FCC, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit voted 2-1 to overturn the ban in the case brought by the longtime licensee of noncommercial San Francisco station KMTP-TV (Current, April 23). The Justice Department’s appeal to the full court argues that that the panel majority “applied erroneous legal standards and misinterpreted the record” to reach their conclusion. “Federal law has consistently precluded public television licensees from airing paid advertisements,” the Justice Department’s filing contends. “The reasons for this are straightforward and uncontested: public broadcasters provide educational programming (particularly high-quality children’s programming) that is not available on commercial stations and subjecting public stations to advertisers’ market pressures would undermine their ability to provide such programming.”

Frontline’s producer on pledge shows and online ads

… This is our deepest embarrassment as public broadcasters. I have heard the arguments, and I understand the imperatives, but to think that, hucksters aside, we spend more of our energy and on-air promotional time, pushing programs that have nothing to do with our mission, is shameful….

Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing, 1993

The Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing for Public Telecommunications (TCAF) delivered its recommendations to Congress on Oct. 1, 1983, after extensive research, including an Advertising Demonstration Program at a number of public TV stations. Documents below:
Letter of transmittal
Membership of TCAF
Executive Summary

Chairman’s letter of transmittal

To the Congress of the United States:

In accordance with Congress’ direction in the Public Broadcasting Amendments Act of 1981, Public Law Number 97-35, the Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing for Public Telecommunications hereby submits its Final Report. This report describes the Advertising Demonstration Program in which selected public television stations experimented with the carriage of limited advertising. The report includes findings, conclusions, and recommendations to Congress concerning the financing of public broadcasting.

Let’s do it: PTV Weekend is worth trying

A debate on the proposed PTV Weekend experiment for two-nights-a-week advertising on public TV
For the plan, below: Mike Hardgrove, president of public TV station KETC in St. Louis. Against the plan:  Fred Esplin of KUED in Salt Lake City. What could have motivated Larry Grossman, a man with unimpeachable credentials in public television, to propose a programming scheme for the industry based on that most despised of funding sources advertising? Could it be that he acquired, as a result of his tenure as president of NBC News, a disregard for the dangers of unbridled commercialism?

Critics arise as PTV Weekend plan gets some ink

Lawrence Grossman’s PTV Weekend proposal for experimentation with a two-night commercial network for public TV stations — described for the first time in major newspapers this month — drew opposition and questions from several well-placed individuals. FCC Chairman Reed Hundt criticized the plan June 9 at the National Press Club. The proposed experiment with advertising on public TV is “an idea we ought to just reject out of hand,” he said. “Once you make public broadcasting commercial, you’ve lost it.” Bill Baker, president of New York’s WNET, a station whose market would be important to the proposed advertiser-supported programming, said PTV Weekend is “a wrong-headed concept at the wrong time,” which “could be very deleterious to the whole concept of public television.”