Allan Pizzato

Alabama firings expose rift over PTV 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.

Alabama PTV appoints interim director after departure of Pizzato

Allan Pizzato, executive director of Alabama Public Television for the past 12 years, has left that position. A press release from the station provides no details.The Alabama Educational Television Commission (AETC) announced Tuesday (June 12) the appointment of Don Boomershine as interim director. Boomershine is a past president of the Better Business Bureau for Central Alabama, v.p. of the Metropolitan Development Board, and v.p., national division of SouthTrust Bank. The announcement also said Boomershine “appeared regularly for 25 years” on Alabama television and radio stations, and received the Outstanding Broadcaster Cooperation Award from the Alabama Broadcasters’ Association.In the announcement, AETC Chair Ferris W. Stephens said the board thanked Pizzato “for all of his years of service as director of APT.”Last year, Alabama PTV endured programming and staff cutbacks due to state funding losses. Its weekly political roundtable, Capitol Journal, had been suspended in June 2011 but returned to the air in January 2012.

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.

PBS grandfathers sectarian shows

In a compromise with the few pubTV stations that carry religious programming, the PBS Board voted June 16 to allow them to keep their PBS membership without dropping the shows. Member stations also can carry worship services and other clearly sectarian programs on their DTV multicast channels or other distribution platforms so long as they don’t carry the PBS name or PBS-distributed programming. The ruling pleased the handful of pubTV stations that have longtime commitments to religious broadcasts. The PBS Board, aiming to maintain a clear separation between public TV’s identity and religious groups, did draw a line on sectarian programs, but the new member eligibility rule is much less restrictive than what the network’s Station Services Committee proposed in February. Stations that want to keep their membership in PBS won’t be able to add any new sectarian programs on their main channels or wherever PBS programs or the PBS name are used.

Abortion issue heats dispute over WDUQ underwriting

Pittsburgh jazz/news station WDUQ finds itself in the middle of an abortion-politics hardball contest between its licensee, Catholic-run Duquesne University, and Planned Parenthood. Soon after WDUQ began running Planned Parenthood underwriting spots Oct. 8 [2007], the university ordered the station to stop accepting money from a group “not aligned with our Catholic identity,” even though the underwriting went solely to the station. Though abortion is one of the reproductive health services offered by the local Planned Parenthood affiliate, the word wasn’t used in the spots. The text for one spot said: “Support for WDUQ comes from Planned Parenthood—reducing unintended pregnancy by improving access to contraception.” Another spot mentioned optional abstinence training.

‘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.

Federal agency will help station build new tower despite broadcasts of Mass on Sundays

With its new transmission tower half built, WFUV-FM in New York City now has some more money to pay for it, after prevailing in a funding dispute with a federal agency, but its neighbors won’t rest until the station tears down the steel and erects it elsewhere. The Fordham University station in the Bronx got its good funding news in December when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration settled the university’s lawsuit and gave WFUV an equipment grant of $262,858, plus about $100,000 in legal costs. In declaring WFUV eligible for the federal grant, NTIA Administrator Larry Irving reversed his 1993 decision that the agency would not assist stations carrying religious programming, including WFUV’s weekly one-hour Catholic Mass. Under the new policy, NTIA announced on Dec. 20 [1996], public broadcasting stations will be eligible for grants even if ”a grant might result in some attenuated or incidental benefit to sectarian interests,” though not if religious activities are ”the essential thrust of the grant’s purpose.”

”In other words,” says WFUV General Manager Ralph Jennings, ”it’s okay to serve the religious needs as well as the other needs of the community.”

”Religious voices cannot be driven from the public square,” said Fordham’s president, the Rev. Joseph A. O’Hare, in a press statement.