Mar 16, 2010

Pubcasting leaders speak out on National Broadband Plan

Reactions are in from the G4-- CPB, PBS, APTS and NPR -- regarding today's historic National Broadband Plan release. Excerpts:

"In particular, we appreciate the Taskforce’s recognition of public media’s important role in serving our democracy, as well as our role in America’s broadband future. We also appreciate the Taskforce’s recognition that, if public media is to continue to fulfill our statutory responsibility to provide every American with free educational and cultural programming in the digital age, more funding will be necessary. The report presents many interesting opportunities as well as challenges, both for our country and for public media."

PBS: The plan "will make a significant contribution to ensuring a diverse, digital media landscape in which the needs of local communities and, in particular, children are well served. PBS and its stations have substantially expanded the distribution of educational, noncommercial content by transitioning to digital platforms, including free and universal digital television, streaming video on and, interactive educational video games, and mobile services." It adds that the "continued development of a robust digital public media ecosystem would be enhanced by the creation of sustainable funding sources dedicated to this important work."

APTS: “APTS is grateful to FCC Chairman [Julius] Genachowski and Blair Levin, executive director of the Omnibus Broadband Initiative at the FCC, for their dedication to the National Broadband Plan, and their recognition of the importance that public television plays in the national landscape of public media,” APTS President and CEO Larry Sidman said in its statement. “As America’s public television stations evolve from broadcast-centric organizations to anchor community institutions that create and distribute digital content across all platforms, they can play a key role in driving broadband adoption and utilization.”

NPR: "Public radio is off and running in pursuit of the 'robust digital media ecosystem' the Commission references. Our launch of the API, ARGO and applications for mobile devices that ease access to public radio content are reflective of our intentions and ambitions. NPR and its partner stations are eager to work with the Commission, the Congress and others in achieving the expanded public service vision of the National Broadband Plan."

Free airfare, hotel for two attending PBS Annual Meeting

Congrats to station reps Kelly McCarthy of Vegas PBS and Michelle Dillard of KTXT in Lubbock, Texas, who won goodies for the PBS Annual Meeting May 17-20 in Austin, Texas. McCarthy now has an American Airlines voucher for her flights, and Dillard scored three complimentary nights at the Hilton Austin where the meeting will take place.

FCC backs pubcasting trust fund in new National Broadband Plan

The FCC's National Broadband Plan has arrived (background: Current, Sept. 21, 2009) with its advice to Congress for expanding broadband reach across America. The FCC has posted it in searchable form. It advises that 500 megahertz of spectrum be made available for broadband within 10 years, of which 300 megahertz should be made available for mobile use within five years. The much anticipated pubcasting trust fund is indeed included. Public broadcasters could give up spectrum (Current, Feb. 8) and those proceeds would endow a trust "for the production, distribution and archiving of digital public media." It continues: "There would be multiple benefits to public television stations who participate in this auction. First, it could provide significant savings in operational expenses to stations that share transmission facilities. Second, 100% of proceeds from the public television spectrum auction would be used to fund digital multimedia content. The proceeds should be distributed so that a significant portion of revenues generated by the sale of spectrum go to public media in the communities from which spectrum was contributed." Examples of successful pubmedia projects cited include WGBH for its Teachers' Domain, a free service offering digital resources for students and instructors; and WHYY radio in Philadelphia's partnership with the Philadelphia Daily News on the City Howl, a multi-media civic engagement blog.

State audit alleges Maryland PubTV didn't properly bid $2 million in contracts

In a report released Monday (PDF), the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits contends that the state's Public Broadcasting Commission spent more than $2 million dollars on services without a competitive bidding process or working through the Board of Public Works, both violations of state procurement requirements, the Associated Press reports. The commission operates the six Maryland Public Television stations. MPT executive v.p. Larry Unger declined to identify the firm in question to the AP. A response from the commissioners said they consulted with Maryland's Department of Budget and Management officials about the payments and that the vendor is one of several companies that have worked for the pubcasters. "Under the circumstances, MPBC believes it acted properly," they wrote. The Baltimore City Paper ran several of the auditor's comments and commission responses from the 33-page report, quipping, "Who says there's no drama in public broadcasting?"

Retooling for Apple's iPad

NPR's web team is racing to adapt for the technical requirements of Apple's new iPad, which launches on April 3. Kinsey Wilson, senior v.p. of digital media, reassures Apple enthusiasts that will be "optimized" for the iPad experience: "Features like the NPR audio player have been given greater visibility and adapted for the unique technical requirements of this new platform; we've modified the navigation and made the site more 'touch' friendly; and we've improved the sponsorship experience." NPR is simultaneously developing a companion iPad app. "Until we see how everyone uses it, it's anybody's guess as to what the best experience is," Wilson tells "We think the app will be more about browsing and listening...a little more relaxed, a little more serendipitous." Peter Kafka of the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital reports that the re-engineering of is much more comprehensive than that undertaken by other big publishers.