Political news from Michigan’s WKAR goes mobile with new app

WKAR-TV in East Lansing, Mich., will make content from a weekly state politics and public affairs show available via a mobile app funded by a grant from the Investigative News Network. The scope of WKAR’s proposed app helped it stand out among a pool of 48 applicants, said Kevin Davis, c.e.o. and executive director of INN. “What made it unique was that the app was focused more on a program rather than on general content,” Davis said. “It was quite niche.” (Disclosure: Current is contracting with INN for web development services.)

The weekly show, Off the Record, has provided coverage of Michigan affairs for 43 years, aided in part by WKAR’s location near the state capital. The half-hour broadcast is supplemented by OTR Extra, a live webcast featuring additional discussions among the show’s guests.

APT’s Create and World gain carriage, audience

Vme is not the only public TV multicast channel that’s gaining traction with viewers. Create and World, channels featuring how-to shows and public affairs programs, have the widest carriage and remain the most popular. Although audience data on PTV multicast channels is limited — in part because only 20 stations are able to subscribe to ratings services for their channels — viewership has grown 18 percent over the past four years, according to TRAC Media, which provides ratings analyses to local pubcasters. Lifestyle-oriented Create is the most dominant of the three channels. Since its national launch via APT distribution 10 years ago, it has secured carriage on 106 licensees and now reaches 78 percent of television households.

TJ Lubinsky secures rights to famed Motown 25 special for public TV pledge

Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, the famous 1983 special on which Michael Jackson debuted his signature moonwalk and Smokey Robinson reunited with the Miracles, is coming to public television via pledge producer and doo-wop showman TJ Lubinsky. The two-hour program has not aired since its initial broadcast on NBC due to complex rights issues, Lubinsky said. He negotiated a two-year exclusive contract for public television stations to run the entire show. The list of performers is a who’s who from Motown, the famous Detroit-based record label: Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, the Supremes, the Jackson 5, the Temptations, the Four Tops and more. Hosting is comedian Richard Pryor, then at the height of his career.

PBS to test whether core series can bring in pledge dollars

PBS has set the lineup for an upcoming fundraising test that will use a full week’s schedule of first-run National Program Service shows. Seventeen stations will take part in the experiment, running Nov. 28 through Dec. 5. PBS is trying to determine whether using core series, rather than pledge specials that veer from the regular lineup, will lead to a more stable member and donor base and perhaps even prompt more major gifts.

APT offers MST3K episodes to public TV stations

SAN DIEGO — Mystery Science Theater 3000 could be headed for public television. It’s one of some 75 shows that public TV programmers are previewing at distributor American Public Television’s annual Fall Marketplace, running here through Thursday. In the cult comedy series, janitor Joel Robinson (played by series creator Joel Hodgson) is forced to watch grade-Z movies on a remote space station as part of a psychological experiment devised by an evil scientist. Robinson creates robot pals Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot and Gypsy to watch with him, and they pass the time by making snarky yet erudite comments throughout each film. Their shadows are superimposed along the bottom of the screen so viewers see the movie while hearing their quips.

Masterpiece expands hours with “gushing pipeline” of classics, mysteries

Masterpiece will concentrate on bolstering its popular Classics and Mystery! strands with an boost in support from its main sponsor, Viking River Cruises. Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton is also working on developing a major new series. The WGBH icon program’s footprint will expand by 50 percent — around 20 hours — with additional episodes spread throughout the season. Extra hours will be scheduled Sundays at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. Eastern time, before or after Masterpiece’s longtime 9 p.m. time slot.