May 14, 2009

CPB requesting quotes for report

CPB is requesting quotes for a person or group to compose a final report summarizing the activities and outcomes of its Ready To Lead in Literacy initiative. Anyone intending to submit proposals must notify CPB by May 22, deadline for proposals is June 5.

PBS dominates Daytime Emmy nominations

PBS leads the network pack in Daytime Emmy nods, announced today in Los Angeles by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. PBS has 56; ABC, 50; syndicated programming, 49; CBS, 30; and NBC, 20. Included are PBS nominations for Sid the Science Kid, Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, Equitrekking, This Old House and Mama Mirabelle's Home Movies. Also, Sesame Street will receive a special Lifetime Achievement Award for its 40 years on the air. See a complete list of nominations here.

To succeed amidst disruption of traditional media, think about 'cannibalizing yourself'

Now is the time for NPR to think about "becoming our own disruptor," said President Vivian Schiller during a webinar on how media companies can and must adapt to the dissolution of their traditional business models.

During a one-hour talk and Q&A hosted today by the Microsoft-sponsored blog FASTforward, Schiller pointed to the big audience gains that NPR booked last fall as the reason for an aggressive push into the digital media sphere--“this is exactly the time you’ve got to think about cannibalizing yourself”--and said it's no longer good enough for to be a companion to the NPR radio news service.

“ has got to be a destination in its own right, and be designed for people who are interested in the values our radio service represents in the online space,” Schiller said. By pairing NPR's national and international newsgathering capacity with the editorial capabilities and listener relationships of local stations, public radio can create a "network of digital properties" that will have deep local connections, she said.

Another featured speaker was media change consultant and author Scott Anthony, who differed with Schiller on the importance that news consumers will place on quality. Media companies have to recognize that "quality is a relative term" and ease of use and simplicity are valuable attributes in digital media, he said.

Fast Forward has posted audio from the one-hour session and is hosting continued discussion.

Gates receives Ralph Lowell Award

Filmmaker Henry Louis Gates is the latest recipient of the Ralph Lowell Award from CPB. Gates was presented with the honor, pubTV's most prestigious, Wednesday evening at the PBS Showcase in Baltimore. His body of work for the network includes Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and Looking for Lincoln. He made news in 2006 and '08 when he hosted and co-produced African American Lives and African American Lives 2, in which he uses DNA testing to track the lineage of notable African-Americans. His next project was previewed at PBS Showcase: Faces of America, which will follow the ancestry of two Jewish-Americans, two Arab-Americans, two Latino-Americans, two Asian-Americans, two West Indian-Americans, two Irish Americans and an Italian-American.

Copps calls for idea to support PBS

Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps thinks America needs ways to address market failures in media businesses. "For example, should we find a way adequately to fund PBS or some other group that is actually interested in doing the job?" In a speech before the "Free Press Summit: Changing Media," today at the Newseum, he also said that perhaps that would be "a PBS-S, Public Broadcasting System on Steroids. That can't be done on the cheap, and we'll hear laments that there's not a lot of extra cash floating around these days. But other nations find ways to support such things. The point is we need to start talking, start planning, now. " He also said that "we still need to get serious about defining broadcasters' public interest obligations and reinvigorating our license renewal process." It is time, he said, "to say goodbye to post-card renewal every eight years and hello to license renewals every three years with some public interest teeth." That brought hearty applause from the audience, made up of journalists, broadcasters, bloggers, policy makers and interested citizens. Here are his full remarks.

Different reactions to WBAI staff changes

There's been a "changing of the guard" at New York's WBAI, the Pacifica station that has been hemoraging money for years. General Manager Tony Riddle was offered a reassignment and Program Director Bernard White was escorted out of the building on Friday, the New York Daily News reported. "This is a termination," White wrote in a letter to his supporters. Steve Brown, a member of the WBAI local station board, told the Daily News that the changes are intended to revive the station, but White's supporters see it differently. An alternative view from Berkeley, Calif., home to the Pacifica Foundation that owns WBAI and Pacifica community radio stations in four additional markets, comes from former KPFA listener board chair Richard Phelps, who has either attended or listened online to many Pacifica National Board meetings. In a commentary for the Berkeley Daily Planet, Phelps writes: "Why didn’t Pacifica correct this problem early on? There was collusion among some PNB members from various stations to allow WBAI to do what they wanted to do with no oversight or accountability to the Bylaws or the listener/subscribers." Worker' s World also provides an account of the lead-up to the takeover.