Mar 4, 2009

NTIA gets additional DTV coupon funding

Some four million viewers on the waiting list to receive DTV converter coupons should start getting those soon. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has its funding and coupons should be flowing next week. On Jan. 5, NTIA announced it had run out of money for the $40 federal coupons that subsidize purchase of converters. The Obama administration put $650 million in the economic stimulus package to allow NTIA to start sending out the coupons once again.

Obama formally announces FCC nomination

As was expected, President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to head the FCC. The president cited Genachowski's diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. Genachowski formerly worked at the commission as chief counsel to Chairman Reed Hundt, and as special counsel to FCC General Counsel (later Chairman) William Kennard.

WEAO makes cuts, adds pledge drives

WEAO in Northeast Ohio has made salary and publication cutbacks and added three pledge drives in an attempt to get back into the black for the end of its fiscal year in June. One employee was laid off, full-time salaries were cut by 10 percent, weekly work hours were reduced 10 percent and overtime was frozen, all as of March 1. The station's monthly program guide for members went from 20 to 12 pages, and three additional publications were suspended through June. Extra pledge drives are planned for April, May and June.

Waco satellite viewers may be without KWBU for two years

DISH Network viewers of KWBU in Waco, Texas, may be without their local pubTV station for up to two years, reports the Waco Tribune. Interim station g.m. Clare Paul said problems began when a retransmission notification from DISH was mistakenly sent to KWBU’s previous CEO, who left the station in August. Paul said she tried to contact DISH but did not hear back until New Year’s Eve 2008, when the staff was away. The next day, area DISH subscribers had no KWBU. “We have contacted our attorney in Washington, D.C., and he’s contacted their attorney, Paul said. Right now, it’s legal talking to legal. We are very frustrated.” In December 2007, APTS reached an agreement with DIRECTTV for local digital carriage. DISH was not in that agreement. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation requiring satellite carriage of public television stations’ complete digital signals where no carriage agreement between the satellite provider and the local station has previously been reached. Meanwhile, Waco viewers still receive the PBS station KNCT in Belton, which covers their area.