PBS weighs balance between free, premium access for launch of Plus

PBS is preparing for a pilot run of Membership Video on Demand, a premium service for station contributors, under the new name PBS Plus. The service will be structured to preserve a window of free access to program streams on PBS.org and to protect stations’ member data, according to Tom Davidson, PBS senior director of digital strategies, during a session at the NETA Professional Development Conference, Oct. 20–22 in Dallas. PBS Plus will go into soft launch in the spring for existing members at seven test stations. Under the full kickoff scheduled for late summer 2015, stations nationwide can begin marketing it to new members.

Pubcasters can follow example of Texas Tribune, says editor-in-chief

ADDISON, Texas — More than one-third of the roughly 300 attendees at the annual National Educational Telecommunications Association’s professional development conference this week are first-timers, making for one of the most crowded Newcomers Welcome sessions in years. And those newbies have plenty of sessions to choose from at the conference, which runs through Wednesday at the Hotel InterContinental in this Dallas suburb. Topics include development, collaborations, marketing, community engagement, FCC regulations, education, promotion — one session even analyzes the “complex, arcane” structure of the public broadcasting system. The conference opened Monday with keynote speaker Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, addressing the power of public conversation. The nonprofit newsroom in Austin, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in two weeks, was “invented more or less on the fly,” Smith said, as newspapers in the state withered.

Aviators distributor scrutinizing show after revelations of apparent product placement

The public TV program The Aviators has come under increased scrutiny from its distributor after Current revealed apparent product placement in the show’s on-air segments. Executive Producer Anthony Nalli removed a sponsorship page from the program’s website earlier this month after Current inquired about promises that sponsors could “expertly integrate their brands directly into the content of the show in a subtle, non-invasive and very effective manner.” Other pages on the site made similar offers. Nalli said the matter was a misunderstanding over wording. “I used the language of advertising, not of public television,” Nalli said.