Feb 15, 2011

Pubcasting enthusiasts posting Twibbons of support

You Twitter? You a public broadcasting fan? This Twibbon's for you.

"Character from one of America's favorite public television shows" to the rescue

Six House Democrats are planning a press conference for 11:15 a.m. Eastern Wednesday (Feb. 16) to announce their efforts to oppose cuts proposed for CPB in H.R.1, the Continuing Resolution under debate this week. Reps. Ed Markey (Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Nita Lowey (Iowa), Sam Farr (Calif.) and Paul Tonko and Bill Owens (both N.Y.) "will be joined by a character from one of America’s favorite public television shows" on the House side of the east front of the Capitol. Could it be . . . the "Big Bird defense"? Fifteen years ago the tactic rescued CPB funding by a 2-to-1 House majority during Newt Gingrich’s reign as House speaker. Last October, former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston (R-La.) acknowledged to Fox News that back in '95, “It was Big Bird that killed us" (Current, Nov. 29, 2010).

UPDATE: Nope, no Big Bird defense. A spokesperson for Sesame Workshop tells Current that there will not be any Sesame Street characters present.

How about "retransmission revenue" for PBS?

Politics Daily senior correspondent Jill Lawrence really likes PBS and NPR. But she wants them defunded. "It's time to end [pubcasting's] role as a political football and a symbol of what government shouldn't be doing," she writes. "It's time to find another way to help public broadcasting thrive."

One idea: Sell PBS programming to cable and satellite companies. Lawrence quotes David Schutz, a veteran broadcast financial and marketing analyst, who said PBS has never looked for "retransmission revenue" from subscription television providers. "Maybe it's time for them to re-evaluate that relationship," he said. Schutz estimates that could bring in from $85 million to $300 million a year for PBS and member stations.

House Energy and Commerce plan calls for examination of NPR "editorial and employment standards"

The House Energy and Commerce Committee plans to "examine certain editorial and employment standards and practices at NPR," Broadcasting & Cable is reporting. The committee's oversight plan, obtained by B&C, cites "recent controversies involving NPR," no doubt meaning the fallout from the firing of correspondent Juan Williams (Current, Nov. 1, 2010).

Ken Burns: Pubcasting services used by all, "regardless of political persuasion"

PBS documentarian Ken Burns issued a statement on public broadcasting today, as debate nears in the House of Representatives on the future of CPB funding. It said in part that discussions over public media support "is always described as a left-right divide. But myriad services in public broadcasting are enjoyed in every state of the union regardless of political persuasion. Public television is particularly a crucial link in ongoing adult education, something we desperately need as we retrain those without jobs." He cited pubcasting's role in providing "in-depth and independent media, along with news, cultural and educational programming," and said it delivers those services "in a nonpartisan, fair, and, most importantly, in-depth fashion. We should not, at this time or any time, forfeit our commitment to the kind of journalism, public affairs, cultural and educational programming that can only be found on public radio and television."

APTS, NPR integrate lobbying efforts to form Public Media Association

The Association of Public Television Stations and NPR are consolidating their lobbying efforts to broaden APTS' advocacy work to include public radio. The Public Media Association will be governed by a legislative council of four pubradio leaders named by the NPR board of directors and four public TV leaders selected by the APTS Action board, along with NPR President Vivian Schiller and APTS President Pat Butler. He will oversee the effort. Mike Riksen, NPR’s vice president for policy and representation, will report directly to Butler on government funding issues. Schiller initiated the discussions with APTS several months ago about aligning their advocacy functions.

Blumenauer attacks "reckless partisan assault" on public broadcasting funding

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), took to the House floor this morning (Feb. 15) to once again speak in favor of public broadcasting on the day that lawmakers will debate the Appropriation bill that zeros out CPB funding. "I fear this reckless partisan assault on public broadcasting will actually hurt our longterm efforts to tame the deficient," he said. "It would mean the loss of a valuable tool to educate and inform the public through a respected and nonpartisan source. This is exactly how to get information to the public on how to deal with the massive deficit problems that we face." He added that efforts to extinguish funding "are attacking one of America’s best public-private partnerships." The Congressman also defended pubcasting on Feb. 11.

The House provides a live stream of floor action, if you want to keep an eye on the debate.

This American Life cracks century-old secret of Coca-Cola's formula

Public radio's This American Life is having website server problems today (try here, it may be up again when you read this). Why? Most probably because it has posted the secret formula for Coca-Cola, which supposedly had not been made public since its first bottling in 1886. Leave it to TAL to unearth a 1979 story on page 28 of the Atlanta Journal Constitution showing a photo of the formula, handwritten by its creator John Pemberton. TAL consulted historian Mark Pendergrast, author of a history of the drink, who (somewhat noncommittally) said: "I think that it certainly is a version of the formula." Care to whip up a batch? London's Daily Mail provides the recipe, along with coverage of TAL's jackpot find. Coriander – who knew?