Nov 30, 2011

Pubmedia films score Sundance Film Fest spots

Six films funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) have been selected to screen at the  Sundance Film Festival, Jan. 19-29, 2012, in Park City, Utah. ITVS domestic co-productions claimed four of the 16 spots in the U.S. Documentary competition and two of the 12 spots in the World Documentary competition. The films are: DETROPIA by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, The House I Live In by Eugene Jarecki, The Invisible War by Kirby Dick, Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the World by Macky Alston, 5 Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, and Putin's Kiss by Lise Birk Pedersen.

UPDATE: Another pubmedia film of note that has been accepted at Sundance is Slavery by Another Name, produced and directed by Sam Pollard in partnership with tpt National Productions, which received funding through the CPB/PBS Diversity and Innovation Fund.

Penn State station hosting Town Hall on abuse allegations tonight

Penn State Public Broadcasting is producing and broadcasting a live Town Hall Forum at 6 p.m. Eastern tonight (Nov. 30) for students and university administration to discuss the ramifications of the sexual abuse allegations surrounding former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.  The Town Hall will air on WPSU's World multichannel with additional feeds provided by WPSU to the Pennsylvania Cable Network and the Campus Cable Network as well as online.

Kerger suggests "subscription model" for online access to some PBS content

PBS President Paula Kerger spent an hour on KQED's Forum program Wednesday (Nov. 30), taking listener questions on public broadcasting and its future. She revealed that to raise revenues, PBS is considering a "subscription model" that would enable paying subscribers to have access to "a larger library" of archived material, reports Adam Powell of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. Kerger said some new PBS programs might be available "for a fee," which she compared to PBS selling DVDs of shows. Listen to the audio here.

NPR's Dick Meyer departing for new post at BBC News, America

Dick Meyer, executive news editor at NPR, has accepted a new position as executive producer for BBC News, America. His last day at NPR is Dec. 9. A memo from Kinsey Wilson, NPR's senior v.p. and g.m. of digital media. and Margaret Low Smith, its acting senior v.p. for news, said Meyer was "instrumental in establishing as a serious force in digital journalism." Meyer joined NPR in March 2008 from He also produced political and investigative reports for the CBS Evening News, and is author of the book Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium

Pilot stations selected for Mobile Emergency Alert System project

Four public broadcasting stations will participate in a Mobile Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) pilot project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and LG Electronics to assess the potential of sharing crisis information via Mobile Digital TV services. WGBH in Boston, Vegas PBS and two Alabama Public Television stations (WBIQ in Birmingham and WAIQ in Montgomery) will serve as test markets. "By using terrestrial over-the-air TV broadcasting, rather than cellular network connectivity, M-EAS is expected to meet critical needs for emergency alerts," a PBS announcement said. The goal is to prove the viability of M-EAS using existing standards, and to create a template for use by all broadcasters, public or commercial.

“With the Mobile EAS service," said John McCoskey, PBS's chief technology officer, "we’ll be able to send everything from AMBER alert photos to detailed maps with escape routes, live video, and extensive information that viewers will find invaluable in a disaster. This goes way beyond just a text message on a congested cell phone network. It’s harnessing the power of ‘one-to-many’ transmissions from a TV broadcaster to the viewing audience.”

Have a question for Gary Knell? Tweet it Thursday

Gary Knell, former head of Sesame Workshop and incoming NPR c.e.o., will be chatting live on Twitter from 3 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Thursday (Dec. 1), his first day of work. Hashtag: #nprceo

Vogelzang to lead Maine Public Broadcasting

Veteran pubcasting exec Mark Vogelzang has been appointed president and c.e.o. of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network, operator of statewide public television and radio networks with a budget of about $10 million. He succeeds Jim Dowe, MPBN president since 2006, who is retiring next month.

The appointment, announced Nov. 29, comes as Vogelzang completes an interim appointment as g.m. of WBFO-FM, the university-owned NPR News station in Buffalo that's being sold to WNED, a community-licensed pubcasting operation that serves radio and TV audiences in Buffalo and Canada. The proposed $4 million sale has gained approval from New York state policy makers — including Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — and is now pending before the FCC.

When Vogelzang took over management of WBFO two years ago, his assignment was to lead the station and its university licensee through strategic planning. Merger talks with WNED later produced the sales agreement that was announced this summer.

MPBN Board Chair Henry "Hank" Schmelzer pointed to Vogelzang's experience an earlier job — as president of Vermont Public Radio — in describing his qualifications as MPBN president. "Mark's long tenure as the leader of a statewide public media network in northern New England with a roughly equal number of stations, individual donors and corporate supporters, combined with his deep knowledge of non-profit fundraising, makes him the ideal candidate to lead MPBN into the future."

As president of VPR from 1993 to 2006, Vogelzang led the public radio network through a $10 million endowment campaign and a signal expansion project that split NPR News and classical music programming on two separate radio networks. Vogelzang served on the NPR Board of Directors for seven years and was interim executive director of the NPR Foundation in 2009.

Wife of new judge in Penn State abuse case had links to school thru pubcasting board

WPSU-FM and WPSU-TV at Penn State University have been tangentially drawn into the ongoing child sex abuse case against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Last week, Pennsylvania court administrators who assigned Senior Judge John M. Cleland to handle the charges announced that Cleland had no known connections to the university — but his wife served for 15 years on the Penn State Public Broadcasting Board of Representatives, a volunteer panel advising the university on the operation of the stations, reports The Citizens' Voice newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Julie Cleland was on the board from 1995 through 2009, including as chairman and vice-chairman. The newspaper said Judge Cleland was unaware of the wording of the Nov. 22 announcement and disclosed his wife's involvement to state officials the next day. Thomas B. Darr, deputy court administrator for Pennsylvania, called Julie Cleland's link to the school via the stations "minimal and distant."

Penn State Public Broadcasting General Manager Ted Krichels agreed. "She's not on the board anymore and doesn't have any connection that I'm aware of with Penn State other than what she had through our board," Krichels said. "There is nothing, I think, that warrants further investigation."

Judge Cleland said he will alert prosecutors and Sandusky's attorney of his wife's Penn State connection "as his first order of business" Wednesday morning (Nov. 30) at a pre-trial conference, the paper said. If any attorneys object, Cleland told Darr he would consider removing himself from the case.