Mar 6, 2012

Suspects charged in connection with 2011 cyberattacks on PBS, other entities

Five suspects, considered among the "most sophisticated hackers in the world" by authorities, were arrested and charged Tuesday (March 6) in Manhattan federal court with conspiracy in connection with computer attacks last year against PBS, Fox Broadcasting Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment, reports CNN. A sixth suspect pleaded guilty in August to computer hacking and other crimes and has been cooperating with government investigators.

On May 29, 2011, techs at as well as the NewsHour and Frontline websites spent hours regaining control during the cyberattack (Current, June 13, 2011). The hack exposed contact information for hundreds of PBS staffers, stations, producers and press, as well as several internal PBS databases. The action was reportedly done in retaliation for a Frontline documentary about WikiLeaks broadcast five days earlier.

Attention RSSers: Current announces management transition

After decades at Current's helm, founding editor Steve Behrens is retiring. Karen Everhart, senior editor of Current for 20 years, will succeed him effective March 12. See the story for more details.

Fate of translators still an unknown in spectrum legislation

There were "bodies left out on the legislative battlefield," including TV translator stations, in the recent spectrum legislation, writes telecom attorney Scott R. Flick of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Those stations are not permitted to participate in the spectrum auction, are not protected from being displaced in spectrum repacking, and are not entitled to reimbursement of repacking expenses. "It is that last point that may be the most important in rural areas," Flick notes.

He uses an example of Montana, with its nearly 350 TV translators. "Moving even a third of them will be an expensive proposition for licensees whose primary purpose is not profit, but the continued availability of rural broadcast service," he writes. "Further complicating the picture is the fact that in border states like Montana, protecting spectrum for low power TV and TV translators will inevitably be a very low priority when negotiating a new spectrum realignment treaty with Canada or Mexico to permit reallotment of the band."

Lonna Thompson, c.o.o. of APTS, told Current that pubcasting advocacy organization "will be working to ensure translators’ interests in the upcoming FCC spectrum rulemakings. The law is rather general, and much will be decided at the FCC level."

More on the spectrum legislation here (Current, Feb. 28).

WFPL in Louisville shifts priorities, triples news staff in one year

News/talk WFPL, part of Louisville Public Media, has added four reporters in the past year, "bucking a national trend that has left many news organizations with shrinking staffs amid a sluggish economy," notes the local Courier-Journal. The WFPL newsroom has tripled from just two reporters in early 2011 to six this year. Those hires reflect a shift in priorities at the organization, said Todd Mundt, outgoing Louisville Public Media v.p. and WFPL p.d. “The goal has been to make the newsroom the center of the entire operation,” he said. Louisville Public Media President Donovan Reynolds credits recent fund drives. “When we have outlined our aspirations to the community, they have responded," he said. Its last pledge drive, in October 2011, made $516,733, a 2.5 percent increase over the 2010 fall drive; the spring drive in April 2011 brought a little more than $615,000, up 22 percent over the spring 2010 campaign. “When I came in 2006 ... the station had never raised more than $180,000 [in a fund drive],” Reynolds said. “Now we are routinely raising half a million. That’s a big jump.”