Jan 14, 2010

$25 million in financial aid flows to pubcasting stations

Today pubcasting stations received their share of $25 million in fiscal stabilization grants (Current, Dec. 14, 2009) from the Consolidated Appropriations Act from CPB. According to the act, the funds are provided “to maintain local programming and services and preserve jobs threatened by declines in non-Federal revenues due to the downturn in the economy” at both public TV and radio stations. President Barack Obama signed the bill Dec. 16, with funds to be distributed within 45 days. Station grants were calculated on a multiplier of each station's three-year average community service grant, a CPB statement said.

Press tour Nature panel includes Pugsley the 13-foot python

Nature e.p. Fred Kaufman remained surprisingly calm yesterday considering he was sitting next to a man with a 13-foot Burmese python named Pugsley around his torso at TV critics press tour in Pasadena (PBS photo). Kaufman and herpetologist Shawn Heflick answered questions from reporters about the upcoming episode, "Invasion of the Giant Pythons." Questions included: How does one go about helping a person being crushed by a python? (Pour alcohol on it, snakes despise that.) Kaufman also discussed the impetus for the show: Pythons, some dumped by owners, are quickly reproducing in the Florida Everglades; the episode takes a close look at how the species is having a serious impact on the environment. Critics also got a chance to have their photo taken with Pugsley.

Overall, "good years" for PBS, critic comments from press tour

Barry Garron, reporting on the TV Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena for the Hollywood Reporter, tells Current the PBS executive session was generally heartening. "Except for the struggle for donations during these recessionary times, these are good years for PBS," Garron notes. "No one is accusing them of controversial programs, following a hidden agenda or pushing their liberal ideas on children. Even better, with the Democrats in control, there are no credible threats to funding. [PBS President Paula] Kerger even said they're getting an 8 percent increase in federal aid." Regarding Kerger's critical comments on commercial children's programming, "In some respects, her attack . . . was somewhat gratuitous. It didn't directly tie in with anything in particular other than to show that, when it comes down to it, PBS is the only programmer that parents can count on."

Noncoms may fundraise for Haiti, FCC announces

The Federal Communications Commission has given permission to noncom stations to raise money for Haiti earthquake relief (PDF). Rules usually limit NCE (noncommercial educational) stations to fundraise on the air only for their own benefit. The FCC has waived the rules for past disasters including Hurricane Katrina (Current, Sept. 19, 2005), the Southeast Asia tsunami, and the Sept. 11 terror attacks (Current, Sept. 24, 2001). UPDATE: Twin Cities Public Television has set up a page to refer visitors to Minnesota's statewide Haiti relief effort. Is your station raising money for victims of the massive earthquake? Contact reporter Dru Sefton,

Four duPont-Columbias awarded to pubcasters

Four of the 2010 duPont-Columbia Awards announced this morning went to public broadcasting news programs, including investigative reports by American RadioWorks and Frontline/World. NPR News received a silver baton for "The York Project," a series of conversations with voters about the role of race in the 2008 election. P.O.V., a PBS series showcasing independent film, won for The Judge and the General, a documentary about the prosecution of human rights violations in Chile. The first-ever duPont Award for a Web-based production was presented to MediaStorm and photojournalist Jonathan Torgovnik for a multimedia presentation about Rwandan children born of rape. Awardees, recognized for excellence in U.S. broadcast news that aired between July 1, 2008 and June 30, 2009, will receive their silver batons Jan. 21 during a ceremony at Columbia University in New York. Details about all of the 2010 winners are here. UPDATE: American Public Media has released an updated version of its duPont-winning American RadioWorks documentary, "What Killed Sergeant Gray," and is offering it for broadcast on public radio stations starting Jan. 22.

NPR reports to appear on PBS pubaffairs web site, Kerger says at press tour

PBS President Paula Kerger said NPR news content will be included on the upcoming pubaffairs website, according to insiders at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. (Kerger speaking at the conference, right.) She said the site also will compile reporting from PBS news series including Frontline, NewsHour and the new Need to Know weekly series from WNET. That content, along with NPR stories, will provide viewers and web users with a central place to go for news of the day, Kerger told critics. The Washington Post reports that Kerger also explained that PBS's subscription to more detailed Nielsen ratings is not for making decisions based on those numbers but to help funders determine the number of viewers they're reaching. More big news announced at the tour: Visitors viewed more than 87.5 million video streams across the PBS Kids sites last month, putting it on track to become one of the most popular video sites in the world, according to a statement. Jason Seiken, PBS's s.v.p., interactive said, when the team saw the first week's numbers, "our jaws dropped."