Nov 1, 2011

White House nominates two for FCC vacancies

President Obama has nominated Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel to serve on the Federal Communications Commission. "Filling one Republican vacancy and one Democratic vacancy-to-be won't change the balance of the commission," notes Broadcasting & Cable, "which will go from a 3-1 Democratic majority to a 3-2 majority." Rosenworcel, Senate Commerce senior communications counsel, and Pai, a former FCC adviser, had been considered the top candidates for seat left open by Republican Meredith Attwell Baker and the vacancy coming at the end of this year with the departure of Commissioner Michael Copps.

Pubcasting funding foe co-stars in Rocky Mountain PBS video

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), an outspoken opponent of federal funding for public broadcasting, appears in a new fundraising video for Rocky Mountain PBS, alongside the station's president, Doug Price.

"We don’t see eye to eye on everything about public broadcasting," Price says to Lamborn, "but I know you and your family have supported Rocky Mountain PBS with an individual gift."

"Yes, that may surprise some people," Lamborn replies, "because as you know I don’t support federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But I do know that Rocky Mountain PBS has a vital role in the marketplace of Colorado media. So I urge your viewers to remember their own role. If you watch and enjoy what you see here, your membership dollars are vital to keep it on the air."

Earlier this year, Lamborn introduced bills to end federal funding to CPB and NPR.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, another public broadcasting enemy, also made a pledge pitch after attempting to zero out CPB (Current, Dec. 12, 1994).

Atlanta pubcasters' salaries scrutinized

Fresh off of public radio pledge-drive season, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution examines compensation packages of top execs of Georgia's largest pubcasting stations, Public Broadcasting Atlanta and Georgia Public Broadcasting, the statewide public TV and radio network.

With a raise that recently boosted his compensation to $280,000, WPBA chief Milton Clipper is the highest paid among them, and four members of his executive team made more than $180,000 in fiscal 2009, according to AJC.

GPB's Teya Ryan receives a base pay of $180,000, but with bonus incentives could earn much as $210,000. Three additional GPB execs earn six-figure salaries.

"In its review, the AJC found that Public Broadcasting Atlanta pays its top executives more than GPB does, although GPB is a statewide system with twice the budget," writes reporter Richard Halicks. "GPB operates nine TV stations in Georgia and 17 radio stations as well. PBA operates one of each."

Clipper's salary has grown from $80,000 in 1994, when he began leading WPBA-TV and WABE-FM, stations owned by the Atlanta Public Schools. WPBA's annual budget has grown from $3.5 million to roughly $12 million under Clipper's leadership, according to WPBA lay leader Kevin Ross, and the $1 million operating subsidy once provided by the school system is no longer necessary.

“We feel like the entire community that PBA serves gets tremendous value from Milton and from his senior staff,” says Ross, who as vice-chair of the WPBA board sits on the compensation committee. “We are widely regarded as one of the best operations in public broadcasting around the country.”

Both pubcasting operations use salary surveys to set executive compensation levels.

Changes at the top of Houston's public stations, WRVO newsroom

In a reorganization of the University of Houston's pubcasting stations, top managers John Proffitt of KUHF-FM and John Hesse of KUHT-TV will depart on Dec. 31, according to the Houston Chronicle. The shake-up, announced as commercial broadcasting exec Lisa Trapani Shumate prepares to sign on as c.e.o. of the recast Houston Public Media, was announced yesterday.

Proffitt and Hesse, both veteran pubcasters, have been reassigned to special projects until their departure at year's end. Shumate is a former TV news reporter who most recently directed programming for Houston's CBS affiliate KHOU. She was appointed last month to lead the pubcasting stations through the merger.

Proffitt, who led KUHF through a major signal expansion project in the past year, told the Chronicle: "I'm not angry or bitter about any of this. Times change . . . . This is a change. The stations will be fine. They have a great staff, and I wish them the best of luck."

In north-central New York state, Oswego's WRVO recently lost four full-time staff in its newsroom, including news director Dave Bullard, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. General Manager Mike Amleigh said the university-owned station hasn't cut its budget or laid-off staff; each of the employees chose to leave or work as freelancers.

WRVO plans to refocus its news coverage on local reporting, Amleigh says, and is recruiting a director of regional content development to lead an expanded newsroom over the next year.