May 9, 2009

Euro pubTV bigwigs ponder rubber chickens

Pubcasters in Europe are getting serious about comedy. Some 500 met in Lucerne, Switzerland, this week, according to The Associated Press, "to debate 'The Boundaries of Laughter' and try to come up with a formula for comedies that would tickle residents from Reykjavik to Dubrovnik." As Eurovision TV director Bjorn Erichsen said, "We have 75 members at the EBU. Why are we not able to produce comedy for all?" The EBU, or European Broadcasting Union, is made up of public broadcasters serving 650 million viewers in 56 countries.

Pubradio host lives long and prospers

The local Morning Edition host at WCAI in Cape Cod, Dan Tritle, sure is looking forward to the new Star Trek movie. So he's a Trekkie? Yes indeed, so much so that he once jogged at a science-fiction convention with George Takei, a.k.a. Sulu in the original 1960s series. "I was a fan from the very first episode" in 1966, he tells South Coast Today.

It's two for one for Burns in Florida

Talk about multitasking. As part of a whirlwind, 45-plus city promotional tour for National Parks, Ken Burns threw out the first pitch at the Florida Marlins' game yesterday. He also used the opportunity to pitch something else: His upcoming baseball doc. "We just started editing what we're calling The Tenth Inning," he told The Palm Beach Post of the project, tentatively set to air on PBS in September 2010. "There's so much that's gone on and we're going to really tell the story, good and bad. There's been enough water under the baseball bridge since 1992, (which) was the last action we described.'' Much more on the massive outreach for National Parks: America's Best Idea in the May 11 Current.

20th annual concert coming to PBS

Here's a preview of the "The National Memorial Day Concert." It's the 20th annual airing of the presentation from the capitol on PBS. This year performers include pop singer Katharine McPhee; country crooner Trace Adkins; classical artists Denyce Graves, Ling Ling and Robert McDuffie; Broadway singers Brian Stokes Mitchell and Colm Wilkinson; and readings from actors Katie Holmes, Laurence Fishburne, Joe Mantegna, Gary Senise and Dianne Wiest, as well as former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Pubcasters request translators to cover DTV gaps

Three pubTV stations have applied to the FCC for a new class of translators that will help them fill in DTV coverage gaps in their service areas, according to Broadcasting & Cable. KNPB in Reno, Rocky Mountain Public Television in Denver and WTVI in Charlotte, N.C., are among 14 stations have submitted 20 applications for the translators. Eight others are asking for temporary translators.

Illinois station, others, still getting calls over channel position switch

Springfield, Ill., PBS affiliate WSEC is receiving about 20 calls a day since its channel was recently shifted from its usual spot on Comcast cable to a higher digital tier, according to The State Journal-Register newspaper. "You would have to pay for an upgrade — if you just have the basic service, even those who have a digital set can’t get us," said Jerold Gruebel, station CEO. The channel's move was made because of a 2005 agreement between the Association of Public Television Stations and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association which says that in cities with more than one PBS station, cable providers may designate one station as the “primary” and other stations as “secondary.” Viewers in several other states are also irate. For more on the ongoing issue, look for the May 11 issue of Current.

Paper supplying programs to pubcaster

Here's an interesting arrangement: In Brevard County, Fla., the Florida Today newspaper will be providing regular weekday TV programs for PBS affiliate WBCC, owned by Brevard Community College. The two daily news shows will air at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. There'll also be at least two prime-time specials each quarter focusing on local issues. "Television is a logical extension for us," said Bob Stover, executive editor of the Gannett-owned daily paper. James Drake, president of the community college, said the deal "will enable us to fulfill our public broadcasting potential." The school will pay the newspaper $25,000 a quarter for the shows.