Dec 21, 2011

Virginia Gov. McDonnell proposes to zero-out state aid to pubcasting

After using a line-item veto this spring to trim state funding for Virginia's public broadcasting stations, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed to completely eliminate the subsidies. McDonnell's first biennial budget, unveiled on Dec. 19, would cut $3.6 million in annual appropriations for Virginia's public television and radio stations and their educational telecommunications services. The total reduction over two years, 2013-14, would be $7.2 million.

David Mullins, president of WVPT in Harrisonburg, plans to appeal to state lawmakers to reject McDonnell's proposal. "[W]e will make our case with the General Assembly for funding the unique and valued services WVPT and our public broadcasting partners throughout Virginia provide,” he said in a statement provided to the Washington Post. “We understand that in this environment, the Governor has some tough decisions to make. However, this complete elimination of funding will have a direct impact on teachers, students and schools.”

In budget wrangling earlier this year, McDonnell proposed to cut state aid to pubcasters by 50 percent, but the 2012 budget later approved by Virginia lawmakers preserved most of the funding. That's when Gov. McDonnell used his veto pen to reduce pubcasting funds even more.

When the General Assembly convenes its next legislative session in January, lawmakers can amend or completely ignore Gov. McDonnell's proposal; but, as the Washington Post reports, McDonnell's chances for influencing the budget process have improved.

Board unanimously agrees to merger between Milwaukee pubTV and Friends group

The Milwaukee Area Technical College Board of Directors voted Tuesday (Dec. 20) 7-0 to place the fundraising operations of the MPTV Friends group under the management of Milwaukee Public Television. The Journal Sentinel reports that the Friends group has raised $100 million over several decades to support public TV stations WMVS-TV (Channel 10) and WMVT-TV (Channel 36). Ellis Bromberg, general manager of Milwaukee Public Television, refers to the agreement as a "merger"; a former Friends board member and president, John Bernaden, calls it a "hostile takeover." The agreement now proceeds to the Friends board.

PBS NewsHour tops international and government TV coverage in new Pew analysis

PBS NewsHour gave viewers more than one-third more coverage of international events over the last year than other TV outlets, including cable, morning and network evening news, according to "The Year in the News," the annual analysis by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. The report says that 39 percent of time on the NewsHour was spent on foreign events and U.S. foreign policy, compared with 28 percent on television in general, 23 percent on cable news programs, 24 percent on network morning news shows and 24 percent on network evening broadcasts. NewsHour also spent a third more time covering government than its direct competitors, commercial network evening newscasts (12 percent vs. 9 percent).

You heart NPR? Check this out

In case you haven't seen it yet, "Hey girl. I heart NPR" on Tumblr is pretty amusing, with its hunky-dude photos and accompanying come-on lines like, "Wait, wait . . . don't tell me you're busy Friday night."

Vision and risk necessary for pubmedia in 2012, observers say

What's the most important innovation necessary for public media in the new year?

That's what pubmedia thinker/blogger/advocate Amanda Hirsch wanted to know, so she asked around. "According to some," she writes on the Integrated Media Association blog, "what's needed more than anything — more than any individual innovative approach — is a shared, collective vision of where public media needs to go next."

She said several respondents agreed with Ian Hill, community manager at KQED, who said, "I think what's still needed most is a change in the culture so that innovation and risk-taking are supported and encouraged."

Longtime Wisconsin Public Radio host announces retirement

Jean Feraca, an on-air host on Wisconsin Public Radio since 1983, told listeners on Tuesday (Dec. 20) that she's retiring in March 2012. Feraca declined to talk further with a reporter from the State Journal newspaper, saying only, "I lost everybody in my team earlier this year, and it's been difficult," referring to two producers who moved on from the station.

In her letter, Feraca jokes about her small stature, saying that listeners often say they thought she was taller — to which she replies, "I'm bigger on the radio."

"And this is true," she writes. "I am bigger on the radio. We are all bigger on the radio. There is something about this exercise of opening up a microphone, day after day, year after year, over the thousands of radio hours we have shared together, that calls us to be bigger, that requires it. Thank you listeners, not only for listening, but for making me bigger."

Silver Batons for pubTV science docs, radio investigative reporting

Pubcasters won three of the 2012 duPont-Columbia Silver Baton Awards announced this morning by Columbia University: Nova, the PBS science series produced at WGBH in Boston, won for "Japan's Killer Quake"; WNYC reporter Alisa Chang, for her two-part investigative series on the New York Police Department, "Alleged Illegal Searches by the NYPD"; and Detroit Public Television, for "Beyond the Light Switch," a documentary series produced and directed by Ed Moore and reported by David Biello of the Scientific American. The duPont jury presented a Finalist Award to WNYC's Radio Rookies for "Coming Up in 2011," a collection of "unflinching self-portraits" by teenagers from Staten Island.