Dismissals at Alabama PTV linked to concerns over proposed broadcast of videos from religious right

See also more complete story from print edition of June 25, 2012. Two top managers at Alabama Public Television were fired from their jobs June 12 with no explanation of the cause for the immediate dismissals. The Alabama Educational Television Commission came out of an executive session Tuesday afternoon and ordered veteran pubcaster Allan Pizzato and his deputy, Pauline Howland, to clean out their desks and leave APT’s headquarters in Birmingham. “All I can say is that it was an irreconcilable difference in opinion of the future direction of the station,” Pizzato told Current. “I serve at the pleasure of the board.

Alabama commission revises APTV’s mission statement, 2012

See also Current coverage. Alabama network’s mission statement before the Alabama Educational Television Commission revised it June 12, 2012
Alabama Public Television Mission, Vision, Values, and Diversity Statement
MISSION
Each of us is born with a natural desire to learn. We seek to explore our world and to understand life and the people around us. Alabama Public Television is a center of discovery for people of all ages. We motivate children to learn, empower students and teachers to succeed, and provide a lifelong path to knowledge.

‘Hasty mistake’ at WFDD prompts talk of ideals

For the faculty of Wake Forest University, the hush order given to reporters at the university’s WFDD-FM last September came too close for comfort.”I’ve never seen anything rile the faculty on this campus like this did, and I’ve been here 11 years,” says law professor Ronald Wright. “A lot of faculty members identified with those reporters. We’re both in the business of telling the truth.” “What has occurred on our campus violated certain ‘givens’ about what a university should be: a place where freedom of thought and expression thrive,” said this month’s report by an ad hoc committee appointed by the faculty senate. The defense of free speech on the campus in Winston-Salem, N.C., has whipped up antagonisms, uprooted most of WFDD’s news staff, and required lots of long, tense meetings, but the issues may be nearing resolution.

Wake Forest University faculty committee report on WFDD conflict, 2000

Five months after the conflict developed between Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and its public radio station, WFDD, the faculty’s Senate Ad Hoc Committee on WFDD released this report Feb. 2, 2000. See also coverage in Current and case study on the conflict in the Public Radio News Directors Guide. Events Triggering This Inquiry
Proposed Guidelines on Confidentiality Policy
The Public Trust and Internal Management at WFDD
The Committee’s Process
Conclusions
Memo from university Vice President Sandra Boyette to university Counsel Leon Corbett
Appendix
Separate statement by member Michael Curtis

Report to the University Senate on the WFDD Matter
Introduction
In October 1999, the President of the University Senate appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on WFDD. She asked the committee to inquire into events at public radio station WFDD during September 1999 and to report to the University Senate with proposals for avoiding such events in the future.

Feds reconsider PTFP grant policy questioned by Sen. Helms

After questioning by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has begun an internal review of its refusal of equipment grants to a North Carolina public radio station that carries 90 minutes of church programming on Sundays. Since early this year, NTIA has been threatening to rescind a $175,000 grant to Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., for tower reconstruction at WFDD-FM, the university’s NPR-member station. NTIA grants officer George White told the university in a March 21 letter that it could receive the grant only if it dropped the religious programming, according to Helms.

Helms, a friend of Wake Forest President Thomas K. Hearn, intervened April 27 with a letter to NTIA Administrator Larry Irving, questioning the decision. As long as NTIA’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program exists, Helms said, ”qualified recipients should not be discriminated against for broadcasting, once a week, a Sunday school and church service.”

NTIA this month informed the station that its grant decision was on hold and will be reviewed by the agency. It was not clear at Current press time whether NTIA was reviewing its broader policy rejecting grant requests from other public radio stations that carry some religious programming.

Court backs NTIA in Fordham case

When the new administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration drew a “bright line” against equipment grants to a station that broadcasts a weekly religious service, that was okay with the Constitution, a federal judge has ruled. Larry Irving’s decision to make WFUV-FM ineligible for NTIA grants was “within the bounds of the law,” said Judge Charles R. Richey of the District Court for Washington, D.C., in a summary judgment June 29 [1994]. WFUV’s long struggle with NTIA took an unexpected turn last year when Irving, a new Clinton Administration appointee, reversed a previous NTIA ruling and told the Fordham University station that it was ineligible because of the Mass that it airs every Sunday morning. The rest of the Bronx station’s schedule is secular. Fordham, which took NTIA to court last October, has not decided yet whether it will appeal Judge Richey’s ruling, according to WFUV’s Washington attorney Margot Polivy.

Fordham station sues for PTFP grant eligibility

Reportedly denied eligibility for a federal equipment grant because it carries one church service a week, Fordham University’s WFUV-FM has sued the Commerce Department for relief. Both the university and the Commerce Department’s Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) apparently use First Amendment arguments to justify their cases. The Jesuit university says Commerce is violating its First Amendment right of free speech as well as the Communications Act, which it says prohibits government control of program content. And PTFP’s overseer, new Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Irving, reportedly believes that awarding equipment grants to stations with religious programming would undermine the church/state separation required by the First Amendment. Irving’s spokesman Larry Williams said the agency is not commenting on the matter because of the pending lawsuit.