Alabama Public Television
Alabama firings expose rift over public TV’s mission, editorial standards
It’s not clear what objectives the political appointees of the Alabama Educational Television Commission had in mind when they came out of an executive session on June 12 and voted 5–2 to fire the state-operated public TV network’s top managers. Allan Pizzato, executive director of Alabama Public Television for 12 years, and his deputy, Pauline Howland, were ordered to clean out their desks and immediately vacate the station’s Birmingham headquarters. The dismissals triggered a series of unintended consequences that included an exodus of nine lay leaders from APT’s fundraising organizations, as well as Howland’s reinstatement on a temporary basis two days later. After the dismissals, the commissioners realized that they needed her knowledge and expertise to complete work on APT’s 2013 budget. The fissure also exposed an internal struggle over the commission’s push to schedule programs from the religious right for APT broadcast, and a revision of the network’s mission statement.