May 21, 2009

Strickling okayed for NTIA post

The Senate Commerce Committee unanimously approved Larry Strickling as head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Strickling will oversee broadband rollout grants and the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program. He had worked as Chief Regulatory and Chief Compliance Officer at Broadwing Communications for three years before joining then-Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign as policy coordinator.

Arizona pubradio creating its own programs for "National Parks"

A lone radio station is joining the massive pubTV outreach surrounding Ken Burns’ National Parks: America’s Best Idea. KNAU, Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, is partnering with the National Park Service to produce features about sites in the state including Canyon De Chelly, Wupatki, and Hubbell Trading Post. Segments will air in September along with the Burns series, according to g.m. John Stark, who is also board chair of the Grand Canyon Association. The station is producing the programming independent of NPR with funding from the National Park Foundation and Western National Parks Association. See the May 11 issue of Current for more on the $6 million PBS outreach, one of public TV's most expensive ever.

WNYC, ETV Radio and WDAV, showcase music festivals on-air and online

Pubradio outlets in New York and the Carolinas are kicking off special musical performance series for local and worldwide audiences, beginning tonight with a live performance by Grizzly Bear from New York's WNYC. The show launches WNYC's American Music Festival, which concludes May 27 with a live concert featuring the world premiere of new work by acclaimed jazz drummer Dafnis Prieto. Tomorrow, on the opening day of the Spoleto Festival USA, South Carolina's ETV Radio and WDAV in Charlotte, N.C., co-present Spoleto Today and Carolina Classics, special series to be presented weekdays during the 17-day festival of music, theatre and dance performances in Charleston, S.C. The pubcasters forged a new partnership to broadcast festival programming throughout the Carolinas, and they are providing streamed and archived performances and other coverage online. WDAV extends its daily coverage from Spoleto with The Mozart Cafe, hosted by Jennifer Foster from noon to 1 p.m. daily.

Albright to introduce Muslim doc at June premiere

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will introduce the doc Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, at its premiere June 3 in Washington. The film will also travel to think tanks, Capitol Hill and several universities before airing on PBS this fall. Produced by Michael Wolfe and Alex Kronemer for Unity Productions Foundation, the film explores the results of the Gallup Organization's first-ever opinion poll on the Muslim world. Gallup polled about 1,000 people in each of 21 countries, mostly in mid-2007.

Copps envisions broadband project partnership

Acting FCC Chair Michael Copps sees building a national broadband network as similar to past work on rural electrification, universal phone service and interstate highways. In an interview Wednesday for for C-SPAN’s The Communicators series, Copps added that such massive projects require cooperation between government and industry. “That’s the way we’ve always built infrastructure in this country – working together.” The interview is set to air at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Post-merger, Sirius XM is losing subscribers

The Wall Street Journal reports that 1.7 million Sirius XM subscribers dropped the satellite radio service in the first quarter of 2009. With 1.3 million new customers signing on, the net loss of 404,000 listeners knocked the recently merged satellite company's subscriber base down to 18.6 million. "Company officials blamed the bad economy and poor car sales and said they expected another hit to subscribers in the current quarter," the Journal's Sarah McBride reports. But, she found another cause: "Many of the dropped customers were disgruntled after the company dropped several stations after the merger. Chris Ross, who had three separate XM radios, says he canceled them in March when his favorite stations were dropped. 'Now an iPod provides the background music,' he says." Be sure to read the comments for a debate on the merits of HD Radio, Pandora and the Public Radio iPhone tuner.