Mar 19, 2008

Viewers unimpressed with Newshour's Obama interview

In letters to PBS ombudsman Michael Getler (scroll down), a handful of viewers accused Gwen Ifill of being soft on Barack Obama during a Newshour interview on Monday. Getler agrees the interview was "somewhat disappointing," but he doesn't blame it entirely on the interviewer. "I don't know if Ifill could have extracted more from Obama or not," he writes, "because he seemed subdued in his responses."

Miami schools to consider selling WLRN-FM/TV

Facing a $200 million budget shortfall, the Miami-Dade public school system will consider selling part or all of its WLRN-FM/TV duo, schools Supt. Rudy Crew told the Miami Herald editorial board. The stations are on reserved channels, the newspaper reported, so they could be sold only for noncommercial use.

City Paper on Steiner: egos, money and clashing philosopies

In another story about the firing of WYPR's Marc Steiner, The Baltimore City Paper reports that President Anthony Brandon's "answers--and his nonanswers--during an hour of questions on March 13 suggest displeasure with not just Steiner's personality but also his unusual employment contract." Brandon says, "Marc was under contract for $125,000 per year to produce eight hours of programming a week. He was also given the latitude to operate other business ventures at the same time." Since Steiner stepped down as station v.p. in 2005, his paycheck has been written out to a company Steiner founded in 1998, Lasko Round Inc., reports the paper. "They wanted to get rid of me as v.p., so they had to give me the contract I wanted," says Steiner. The story also discusses the relationship between WYPR and Steiner's nonprofit, the Center for Emerging Media. See Current's story on Steiner's firing here

To be fiscally prudent, WNIT drops analog early

WNIT, the pubTV station in South Bend, Ind., has discontinued analog broadcasting after its two major signal amplifiers failed, writes General Manager Mary Pruess in the South Bend Tribune today. If the expensive repairs wouldn't be obsolete within a year, when the FCC mandates the final analog sign-off, WNIT would do them immediately, she writes. WNIT offers a phone hotline and webpage for info about over-the-air viewers' options. In Tennessee, where cable carriage is limited, Cookeville's WCTE rented expensive equipment rather than turn off its analog signal this winter.