Feb 9, 2011

APTS mobilizes stations as House vote nears on pubcasting funding

Anticipating a floor vote to eliminate funding for public broadcasting next week, the Association for Public Television Stations today (Feb. 9) called for stations to join the first big push to build political support in the House of Representatives.

The House Appropriations Committee is preparing to debate a Continuing Resolution that would fund the government after the current CR expires next month, and CPB is among many federally-funded entities that could be zeroed out. The bill is expected to come to the floor during the week of Feb. 14. House leaders have said it will be debated under open rules that allow lawmakers to offer amendments targeting specific programs, according to APTS.

But CPB is already included in a list of $35 billion in recommended spending cuts that Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) shared with rank-and-file Republicans today.

APTS is advising stations to "exercise your First Amendment right to use your broadcast resources to marshal your community supporters to advocate for continued federal funding." It also provided detailed talking points for use in communicating the message, particularly to station boards, and a briefing on the do's and don'ts of making on-air appeals for political support.

According to APTS, there are now six bills in Congress to either defund or reduce public broadcasting support:

– H.R. 68, by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit federal funding for CPB after fiscal year 2013;

– H.R. 69, by Lamborn, which separately targets public radio programming funding;

– H.R. 235, the "Cut Unsustainable and Top-Heavy Spending Act of 2011," by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas);

– H.R. 408, Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's "Spending Reduction Act of 2011";

– S.178, the Senate version of that bill, by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), and

– S. 162, the Cut Federal Spending Act of 2011 by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

Nearly 1,400 nonprofs and agencies manage access channels, project finds

Here's the third update on Rob McCausland's interesting Mapping Community Television project. (Here are parts one and two.) McCausland is director of information and organizing services at Alliance for Community Media, and is mapping every community access provider in America. Tuesday's (Feb. 8) post reveals he's located 471 nonprofit organizations and 907 government agencies that manage access channels. The alliance is a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to citizen access to media.

WITF sings, "Go Public!" on its uber-catchy YouTube video

Central Pennsylvania's WITF has released what may very well be the first hip-hop/bouncy pop/rap music video supporting Congressional support for pubcasting funding. "Go Public!" was composed and produced by the WITF staff, who also star in the three-minute spot. Be forewarned: You'll wanna get up and dance in your cubicle.

Craigslist founder backs pubmedia funding

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, posted a statement on his blog Tuesday (Feb. 8) in support of pubcasting funding. "I feel that public service media is a big deal," he writes, "and that NPR will be a dominant force in news media." He also directs visitors to the 170 Million Americans advocacy website.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute invests $60 million for TV science documentaries

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which has supported Nova, scienceNOW and science reporting on the PBS NewsHour, has announced a $60 million documentary film initiative "that aims to bring high-quality, compelling science features to television," it says. This is the institute's first initiative for documentary films, according to Sean B. Carroll, vice president for science education. Its priority will be "to tell intriguing science stories that will grab the viewer," Carroll says. The Chevy Chase, Md.-based institute is a biomedical research organization that employs 380 scientists, including 13 Nobel Prize winners.

FCC fines KCET $10,000, alleging public file access violations

The Federal Communications Commission is fining KCET in Los Angeles $10,000 for failing to make available the station's public inspection file. The FCC posted the notice (PDF) Tuesday (Feb. 8).

It describes how an agent from the FCC enforcement bureau's L.A. district office, without identifying himself as an agent, showed up on Aug. 19, 2010, at the station lot's main gate and requested to see the file. A security guard told him he had to make an appointment, and denied his request to speak with the station manager. The agent left. The same thing happened the next day.

On the third day, the agent identified himself and showed FCC credentials to the guard. "After a thorough examination of the agent’s badge and several phone calls to Station KCET personnel inside the building," the FCC report says, "the agent was allowed to go inside of the facility and view the public inspection file. The agent found that the Station KCET public inspection file was complete."

A KCET station rep subsequently told the agent that the general counsel was not in the office on those days, and she didn't know rules regarding public access to the records. The security supervisor said in general, persons wishing to view the file must make an appointment, and cited KCET's security protocol to conduct screenings at the gate.

The alleged violations took place before the station declared its independence from PBS membership (Current, Oct. 18, 2010).

UPDATE: KCET sent Current this statement in response: "As stated in the FCC notice, KCET's Public Inspection Files are in order. KCET is looking into the alleged violation and will respond to the FCC notice by the March 10, 2011 deadline."

CPB looking for stations in communities with high dropout numbers

CPB has issued a request for proposals for stations to serve as hubs for Project 12: Operation Graduation. The $12 million dropout awareness and youth engagement initiative is targeted to stations in high dropout areas. Here's a link to the RFP, and background

Minnesota Public Radio opens Washington, D.C., bureau

Minnesota Public Radio's Washington, D.C., bureau is up and running, with Berlin-based former NPR reporter and editor Brett Neely as correspondent, says MinnPost media blogger David Brauer. Neely's experience includes reporting and producing for Marketplace, and covering mainly economics for several European public television channels. He grew up in Munich and is in German. He heralded his move stateside with a video of David Bowie's "Changes" on his blog. As Bauer noted, Neely's Twitter feed includes the tagline, ""Public radio wench, but I'd rather be in a hair metal band."