Jun 28, 2010

NJ Senate okays study of NJN assets as part of break from state

The New Jersey Senate today (June 28) approved a study of New Jersey Network's assets and its plan to break from the state, is reporting. Under the legislation, a panel would investigate the value of equipment and licenses held by dual pubcasting licensee NJN, and ascertain if it could operate as an independent nonprofit without state funding. The network's state support in fiscal 2011, beginning July 1, falls to $1.98 million from $3.9 million in FY10. Howard Blumenthal, NJN's interim executive director, wanted the stations to go independent July 1 (his plan, PDF). The network has been asking for independence as far back as 2008 (Current, May 12, 2008).

Pubmedia trust fund hopes dim after White House announces broadband plans

The administration's fast-track plan for broadband spectrum reallocation does not include the much-anticipated public media trust fund created by auction proceeds (background, Current, Feb. 8, 2010). A four-point White House fact sheet released today (June 28) for the media says auction revenue instead will be used to "promote public safety, job-creating infrastructure investment and deficit reduction." In a statement (PDF), Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski endorsed President Obama's plan, including the spectrum auction "generating revenue to fund a world-class mobile broadband network for our nation’s emergency responders." Neither the White House memo nor FCC statement specifically mentioned public broadcasting.

However, the National Broadband Plan did, recommending that "Congress should consider dedicating all the proceeds from the auctioned spectrum contributed by public broadcasters to endow a trust fund for the production, distribution and archiving of digital public media. 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 percent 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."

In a conference call with reporters, Jason Furman, deputy director of the National Economic Council, announced the administration's four steps for achieving a release of 500 MHz of spectrum for the growing number of wireless devices: Identify spectrum for reallocation, provide tools to free it up, enable spectrum to be put to "highest value uses" (mobile broadband, unlicensed bandwith for tech startups, and spectrum sharing), and use auction proceeds to benefit public safety, job growth and deficit reduction. The White House has no official estimate of revenues from a spectrum auction but notes it "could reach the tens of billions of dollars."

A White House official told Broadcasting & Cable that President Obama does not favor mandatory spectrum give-backs, which some broadcasters fear.

Vermont gets new chief content officer

Vermont Public Television has hired Kathryn A. Scott as its chief content officer, the Burlington Free-Press reports. "I am doing my level best to stimulate the local economy through the purchase of a new car and some new appliances," Scott quipped. She produced American Public Media's Weekend America from 2005 to '07, and Sound Money from '02 to '05. In the 1990s she was series producer for Newton's Apple on PBS. She's also produced news and docs for USA Today on TV, Discovery and Tech TV News. (Image: VPT)

Benazir Bhutto's sister to introduce ITVS bio film at Washington premiere

A rare appearance by Sanam Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's sister and only living sibling, will open the Washington, D.C., premiere of ITVS's biographical doc "Bhutto" Tuesday (June 29). Also speaking will be Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States; and CPB's CEO Pat Harrison. PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff will lead a post-screening discusssion and audience Q&A with the film's director Duane Baughman and producer Mark Siegel. "Bhutto" has its national broadcast premiere in March 2011 on PBS's Independent Lens in honor of Women's History Month.

Once again, PBS brings home most Creative Arts Daytime Emmys

PBS cleaned up at the Creative Arts Daytime Emmy Awards Friday (June 25). The network led nominations with 53, and topped winners with 16. Electric Company scored five, including for new approach to children's programming. Perennial fave Sesame Street was honored with seven; that included a tie for acting. And Avec Eric's graphic design took a statuette. Click here for a complete list of winning names.