The House and Senate resolved last-minute differences over public broadcasting’s fiscal 1991-93 authorization bill and late last week passed the three-year, $800 million measure. The bill also makes a variety of other changes, including requiring the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to collaborate with the public TV system to develop a new plan for distributing CPB’s national TV production money. The bill also requires CPB to establish a $6 million-a-year fund for independent productions. The Senate passed an earlier version of the bill October 7, but when it reached the House telecommunications subcommittee, Chairman Edward Markey objected to language requiring CPB to seek private funding to replace public broadcasting’s aging satellite program delivery system. Both sides agreed to a diluted directive for CPB to submit a report to Congress on the “availability of private sector rather than federal financing.” The House and Senate also agreed to postpone until October 1, 1989, a requirement that CPB devote its interest income to pro÷ gramming and provide producers with “grants” instead of “contracts.”
With these final hurdles cleared, the House passed the bill without comment about 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The Independent Television Service and CPB signed a long-delayed contract that will pass $23 million of federal money to the St. Paul-based organization through December 1992. ITVS, mandated by Congress in 1988, will give grants to and promote independent PTV productions. John Schott, executive director of the group based in St. Paul, Minn., said the contract guarantees ITVS “its proper autonomy” and provides for CPB’s oversight responsibilities.
The Independent TV Service, the organization established by Congress to distribute $6 million in production grants to independent television producers, has selected John Schott executive director. Schott who will leave his job as executive producer of Alive from Off-Center, produced by KTCA-TV in St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minn. Schott, who will be the first director of the fund that opened for business last October, said his duties will include overseeing the organization’s day-to-day operations, helping develop program direction and realizing “the mandate and philosophy” of the ITVS. The ITVS has a “specific mandate to produce TV programs independent of corporate desirability, independent of an insistence to be broad-based, large number-oriented,” Schott said.
Lawrence Daressa, Laurence Hall and Lawrence Sapadin are the collective mind and spirit behind the Independent Television Service, designed this year to provide independent producers with new opportunities to air public TV documentaries. The three Larrys attribute their success in developing the ITVS — endowed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with $6 million ordered by Congress — to being prepared when congressional hearings about the state of public broadcasting came to a head in 1987. “Instead of simply complaining and decrying the degeneration of public television from its original public service orientation, we actually had a solution and an answer,” Daressa, 43, explained from his office in San Francisco, where he serves as co-director of California Newsreel. Daressa, a 15-year veteran of Newsreel, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit media centers, said the “solution and answer” was to give the opportunity to independent producers to come up with programming “independently of the priorities of the stations.” We’re different aspects of one urge, kind of a collective personality — for the field, for independents and for the public interest in public TV.