Nov 17, 2010

Noncom religious broadcasters say, what about us?

The National Religious Broadcasters group "suggests that the government turn its attention to the needs of a huge, underappreciated resource: noncommercial religious broadcasters." The NRB released that statement today (Nov. 17) in reaction to the increasingly noisy debate over federal funding of CPB, PBS and NPR.

“These donor-driven broadcasters do not receive a dime of tax money, yet they serve the public interest,” said Greg Parshall, NRB v.p. and general counsel, by spreading news about homeless shelters, reading and school programs, anti-crime groups, crisis pregnancy centers and military support programs.

So noncom religious stations "should be give more latitude to raise funds on-air for other legitimate, nonprofit groups," Parshall said, and need "fewer constraints in seeking program sponsorship from corporate and business underwriters."

The statement also includes a link to download "a 60-second audio actuality" calling on Congress to make the changes — available with or without background music.

GOP will force floor vote on defunding NPR

House Republicans announced today (Nov. 17) that they plan to force a floor vote on defunding NPR, The Hill is reporting. House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colo.) said the issue received the most votes on Cantor's YouCut site, which allows visitors to advise lawmakers on budget cuts. (The option to vote "no" is not provided.) "When NPR executives made the decision to unfairly terminate [Correspondent] Juan Williams and to then disparage him afterwards, the bias of their organization was exposed," the two said in a statement. "Make no mistake, it is not the role of government to tell news organizations how to operate. What is avoidable, however, is providing taxpayer funds to news organizations that promote a partisan point of view." NPR fired Williams in October after his controversial comments he made about Muslim airline passengers.

Now online: PBS NewsHour Science

PBS NewsHour's new science page went live yesterday (Nov. 16), with original reporting by NewsHour Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien, Digital Correspondent Hari Sreenivasan, Reporter/Producer Jenny Marder and the show's science reporting unit. There's a "Just Ask" feature for viewer questions for scientists and other experts, podcasts and more interesting science, engineering and techie stuff.

More than 100 NJN staffers receive layoff notices, but could survive cuts

The Associated Press is reporting that 130 employees of the New Jersey Network received 45-day layoff notices Tuesday (Nov. 16) as the pubTV and radio network prepares to break from state support (Current, July 6). Another 17 who are paid through a private foundation also are expected to receive pink slips soon. They're part of some 2,200 layoff notifications to state employees.

However, according to the Asbury Park Press, most of the terminations are unlikely to occur. The notices are a state civil service requirement.

"The staff has known for quite a while that they might possibly get these," acting NJN executive director Janice Selinger told Current. "There are instances in which layoff notices are recalled, and that might happen. We don’t know." In October, a task force that researching NJN's future called for a "dramatic reconfiguration" of the network, and rejected Gov. Chris Christie's Jan. 1 deadline.

Selinger said both the legislature and governor's reps have signaled they want the network to survive. Two bills are pending, including one to continue the task force's work.

"This is obviously not easy for the staff," Selinger said. "With all this uncertainty, they're being so professional." Work continues on fundraising and projects including the new NJ Fresh! show, which explores area farmers' markets.

Friday webinar on Public Media Innovation work

CPB's Public Media Innovation (PMI) fund is the topic of Friday's (Nov. 19) webinar sponsored by the National Center for Media Engagement. The grants support station work on emerging media platforms. Representatives from KPBS in San Diego, Maryland Public Television, University of Pennsylvania's WXPN and WKSU at Kent State in Ohio will discuss projects and generating new streams of revenue. Register here for the 1 p.m. Eastern event.