Mar 25, 2010

Lawson asserts he's not in running for APTS presidency

On March 14, Larry Sidman, president of APTS, announced his departure. On March 24, John Lawson, former president of APTS, announced his departure from ION Media Networks. The timing has some in the system wondering — could Lawson be returning to the APTS helm? Not so, Lawson tells Current: "I can confirm that I will not be a candidate for the CEO position at APTS."

"Need to Know"? Need for better planning and money management, blogger says

Michael Rosenblum, former WNET worker and now "on the cutting edge of the digital videojournalist revolution" (he's worked for BBC, Voice of America, New York Times television) is vehemently proclaiming that he no longer contributes to PBS. He's particularly annoyed — well, far past annoyed — by Thirteen's forthcoming Need to Know pubaffairs show (Current, March 22, 2010). One problem, he writes: "Three years! The show has been in the planning phase for three years! . . . Please note that it took Marc Zuckerman two months to conceive of, build and launch Facebook."

"Sneak Previews" commercial successor succumbs to low ratings

At the Movies, the latest incarnation of WTTW's PBS show Sneak Previews, is ending due to low ratings. Disney-ABC Domestic Television and ABC Media Productions made the announcement today. The show lasted 24 seasons, according to the Chicago Tribune's media writer Phil Rosenthal. WTTW first paired Gene Siskel, who was reviewing films for the Tribune and the local CBS affiliate, with Pulitzer Prize-winner Roger Ebert, for Opening Soon ... at a Theater Near You in 1975; about three years later it went nationwide on PBS as Sneak Previews. "It was one of the most popular shows in PBS history," Rosenthal noted. A dispute with WTTW led Siskel and Ebert to commercial television in 1982. Siskel died in 1999. Ebert has struggled with cancer for several years and lost his ability to speak, but has found another career as a wildly popular blogger.

PBS Board committee advises continuing "one station, one vote" governance

After more than three years of task force analysis, a PBS Board Nominating and Corporate Governance committee will recommend to the full board that it continue "one station, one vote" representation. The alternative would be giving large stations more votes on the PBS Board. Chair Jennifer Lawson told the panel today at headquarters in Arlington, Va., that data from professional director elections was tracked to see if there would have been different results with weighted voting, and how that would have affected composition of the board. Research showed that votes weighted by station size would not have had significant impact on the board composition; 3 percent of elections would have been affected. Lawson added that station surveys indicate lack of support for weighted voting, and a nonprofit governance expert discouraged weighted voting. Jim Pagliarini, chair of the Major Market Group of stations, said that while there are still "strong voices" in the system who feel that voting should be weighted, "it's never bubbled up as an issue of the day" at meetings of the Affinity Group Coalition, where groups of small and large stations have representatives.

WLIU-FM moves into new studios

WLIU 88.3FM is now ensconced in new Southampton, NY, studios, with only three hours of dead air while transmitting equipment was move, reports the Southampton Press. The station moved from the Stony Brook Southampton college campus, its home for the last 20 years. The university agreed in October to sell the station to Peconic Public Broadcasting (Current, Oct. 13, 2009) but Peconic has run into challenges along the way (Current, Aug. 24, 2009; Feb. 17, 2010).

CPB backs five local media start-ups, prototyping of a pubmedia platform

CPB is about to announce funding for five new media start-ups to be operated by public broadcasting stations and for an NPR-led project to begin planning a shared web platform for public media's digital content.

The projects, to be unveiled at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. this morning, aim to build pubcasting's newsgathering capacity and create a more efficient and flexible technical system for distributing content.

Twenty-seven different pubcasting stations will collaborate in creating the five local journalism centers; CPB is seeking proposals to establish two additional LJCs in coming months. At each center, multimedia teams of journalists will produce reporting on topics of particular interest to that region. The LJC for the Plains States will report on agribusiness and farming practices, for example; in Upstate New York, the LJC will report on economic development efforts focussed on innovative technology.

"The Local Journalism Centers will enhance public media's ability to meet the information needs of local communities at a time when access to high quality, original reporting is declining," said CPB President Patricia Harrison. Over two years, CPB and participating stations will invest $10.5 million in building the centers, with the expectation that each will become self-supporting when grant funding ends.

The largest LJC will be located in the Southwest, where 7 stations will collaborate in building a bilingual reporting team to report on cultural shifts in the region, including Latino, Native American and border issues. In the Upper Midwest, an LJC built by three stations will report on economic redevelopment of the industrial heartland. Central Florida's LJC is a collaboration among six stations to produce reporting on health care issues. CPB is accepting LJC proposals from stations in the South and Northwest. The deadline for the next batch of proposals is April 14.

The Public Media Platform project to be managed by NPR will develop a prototype for a common technical system to be used by all of pubcasting's major program distributors and other producers in distributing web content. "The ultimate goal is to collect, distribute, present and monetize digital media content efficiently, allowing producers to devote their resources to reporting, content production, and community engagement," according to CPB.