James A. Fellows, a longtime leader in public TV, remained in critical but stable condition last week after being hit by a car in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 2. Since the accident he has had five major operations at Bethesda’s Suburban Hospital to mend broken bones and other damage. Though he still faces many risks, doctors said last week he was trending for the better, according to Fellows’ friend Pete Willson. On Dec.
Twenty years is an anniversary round enough to permit us at Current to indulge in some hoorah, and to recognize the people who have made the paper possible for two decades. Marking the occasion, we published an updated edition of the paperback A History of Public Broadcasting last month, and inaugurated a companion website of the field’s historical documents, Public Broadcasting PolicyBase (PBPB). Since its first issue, March 17, 1980, Current has grown in many respects — in professionalism, in average page count (threefold), in circulation (fivefold), in advertising support (vastly), and in sustainability. (The growth allows and requires us to expand our staff this year, adding a fourth editor.)
It’s our pleasure to work on a community newspaper for a community full of so many people with fine passions, admirable skills, high ideals and damned good fights. It’s a community paper for a community the size of a small town but spread across a continent.
James Fellows, long active in public TV’s national leadership and founder of Current, analyzed the PTV Weekend proposal, when it was published in June 1997, on behalf of the Hartford Gunn Institute, a fledgling organization he was trying to launch as a planning agency for the public TV system. See also the PTV Weekend proposal and Current’s coverage of it. The Hartford Gunn Institute is an independent entity that is interested in analyzing and encouraging promising opportunities in public broadcasting and telecommunications. It has no organizational or financial interest in the outcome of the research work which it undertakes. At the request of Lawrence K. Grossman, former President of the Public Broadcasting Service, The Hartford Gunn Institute was commissioned to explore with key leaders in public television their questions and concerns concerning the strengths and benefits of what has come to be called PTV WEEKEND.
In May 1997, former PBS President Lawrence K. Grossman put forth results of a study backed by the Markle Foundation. He proposed a compromise on corporate support: Public TV would be permitted to raise needed production money by selling on-air advertising two nights a week. James A. Fellows examined the issues in an analysis published by the fledgling Hartford Gunn Institute. Current also carried several news stories on the project’s origins. Current’s June 23, 1997, issue described the PTV Weekend (a.k.a. P2) proposal and featured a debate on the experiment between two station leaders.