Aug 17, 2009

PBS cancels Dev Con, folds it into broader spring conference

With registrations for the upcoming PBS Development Conference running "very low," network President Paula Kerger said network management made the"extremely difficult decision" to cancel the Oct. 1-3 conference and fold it into the PBS Showcase event next spring in Austin, Texas. On behalf of attendees, PBS cancelled hotel reservations for the Dev Con in Orlando, Fla. The network now plans a broader Showcase event for fundraisers as well as general managers and program execs. In the meantime, Kerger said, PBS will plan more webinars and other professional development options for fundraisers.

Sesame to introduce several new shows at confab in France

Perky little Abby Cadabby gets a 3D animated makeover in her new Abby’s Flying Fairy School, which Sesame Workshop will show off in October at MIPCOM. Characters for the CGI-animation series were created by Peter De Séve, character designer for the big-screen Ice Age. Each segment works to foster preschoolers’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, according to a Workshop press release. Abby, along with new pals including fairies, trolls and a part-gerbil/part-unicorn named Niblet, attend Fairy School with Ms. Sparklenose. Other shows debuting at MIPCOM include Munchin' Impossible, teaching healthy eating; and Elmo's Backyard, introducing science concepts.

Savidge shifts from anchor chair at Worldfocus

Martin Savidge, anchor of WNET.ORG's Worldfocus since its launch (Current, Sept. 2, 2008), is shifting from that seat to become a special correspondent in the field. Daljit Dhaliwal, a contributing correspondent, will become anchor. The changes are effective Aug. 31, according to a statement from the show. Dhaliwal has most recently hosted Foreign Exchange, a weekly half-hour international affairs series on PBS; she will continue in that position in addition to her new role with Worldfocus, according to APT, which distributes both programs. Eight weeks after its premiere, Worldfocus was seen in the top 30 markets (Current, Dec. 22, 2008) and this January debuted Worldfocus Radio on the online network BlogTalkRadio.

Community Broadcasters Association closes

The Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) disbanded July 15 and has canceled its trade show scheduled for this fall, it announced last Thursday, according to Broadcasting & Cable. The group represents more than 2,800 Class A and low-power television stations and has drained available funds in recent regulatory battles, including work to ensure that all DTV converter boxes eligible for coupon discounts include analog pass-through capability. Amy Brown, CBA’s former e.d., predicted that around 40 percent of Class A and LPTV station operators may have to shut down in the next year if they are not helped through the digital transition.

Iraqi troops returned with Muppet booty in 1990 invasion

Tapes of Sesame Street episodes along with a Muppet camel were stolen by Iraq's Republican Guard troops during their 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell tells's World website. "To this day, they've never been recovered," Knell added. "That's how much the show is loved there." Children in some 120 countries watch versions of the show, and the Workshop hopes to add to that number with localized programming in other conflict areas such as Pakistan, according to the site. Meanwhile, in Denmark ...

Early review of NPR's new News app: "awesome"

The NPR News App for the iPhone and iPod touch is now available for free downloads from Apple's App Store. The application, one of several that NPR is developing, is the first news-oriented app allowing users to read or listen to news stories and programs, or to do both simultaneously. It also offers live or on-demand streams from 600 NPR stations. NPR introduces its news app here, where Weekend Edition's Scott Simon hosts a video demo of its features and navigation. Unlike the Public Radio Player, which serves up web streams and programming information for more than 300 pubradio stations, the NPR News app is focused on the "NPR experience," Kinsey Wilson, senior v.p. of NPR Digital, tells paidContent. "They’ve taken a comprehensive view and tried to encompass every single show produced at every station," Wilson says, referring to the Public Radio Player. "It does create some performance issues and some navigation issues. We wanted to keep it a little more compact, a little more focused on what 80-90 percent of the audience is listening to." The app was released just yesterday so there aren't many detailed techie reviews of it yet, but here's one that just gushes with praise: "NPR finally has an iPhone app, and it is awesome."