Apr 29, 2005

"We must bring the public back into public broadcasting." In a report outlining financial and political threats to PBS, a consortium of media reform and consumer advocacy groups proposes town-hall style meetings on public TV's future.
A blogger reacts to the news that "California carpetbagger" is promoting concerts in the D.C. area.
In a report examining CPB's push to exert more influence on programming, NPR's David Folkenflik links CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson to controversial decisions to hire ombudsmen and to green-light Journal Editorial Report.

Apr 27, 2005

Pitching Cooking Under Fire as "reality TV that feeds your brain" is a "a hunk of fat-blobbed baloney that only feeds your cynicism," writes a Boston Globe TV critic. The series, debuting tonight on most PBS stations, is "a formulaic show that merely mimics countless niche reality contests all over TV grids."

Apr 25, 2005

This New York Times Q-and-A with Ken Ferree suggests that the current head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting doesn't watch or listen to much public broad- casting. Ferree later told Current that he was a "little misportrayed" in the interview.
You're either with us or agin' us, says a leader of a union boycott of the San Francisco Hilton, putting the squeeze on ITVS, which says it would lose $1 million, under its hotel contract, if it moves the Input 2005 conference out of the hotel. Rory O'Connor posted the story today on AlterNet.

Apr 22, 2005

Christopher Lydon is keeping a blog that looks ahead to the launch of his new show, Open Source.
NPR and Court TV will collaborate on producing hourlong quarterly specials about legal issues, reports MediaWeek.
This Washington Post piece polls pubcasting observers about whether CPB's recent moves to add ombudsmen, bring on former Michael Powell adviser Ken Ferree and replace President Kathleen Cox is part of an effort to exert political pressure on the system. According to an unnamed FCC official, CPB "is engaged in a systematic effort not just to sanitize the truth, but to impose a right-wing agenda on PBS. It's almost like a right-wing coup." But CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson refutes all conspiracy theories and advises the agency's critics to"grow up."

Apr 21, 2005

Detroit PTV fired Darrell Dawsey, host of its weekly show America's Black Journal, after the angry collapse of an interview with Keith Butler, a conservative African-American preacher and U.S. Senate candidate, the Michigan Citizen reported. Pressed by the station to interview Butler, Dawsey grilled him for not supporting federal social programs. Media monitor Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute picked up the story. "This is what racism looks like," the fired host said. Prince provides his context: "Dawsey's firing comes as public television is making moves to accommodate right-wing critics nationally." Via SPJ PressNotes.
Listeners to Morning Edition still miss Bob Edwards, who was removed as host almost a year ago, but also say they like its new sound, writes NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin.

Apr 20, 2005

Two network news vets — Don Hewitt of CBS News and Tom Bettag of ABC's Nightline — are thinking of news programs to produce for PBS, according to the New York Observer. (Via Romenesko.)
The Campaign for Commercial-free Childhood organized a campaign to urge local public TV stations not to affiliate with PBS Kids Sprout, the ad-supported digital cable channel launching this fall. "Just because PBS has abandoned its commitment to commercial-free programming for children doesn’t mean your local station has to do so," CCFC says in a call-to-action on its website. A San Jose Mercury News article about the inescapability of ads targeted to kids points parents to CCFC's website.

Apr 19, 2005

The FCC has announced Auction 62, scheduled for Nov. 1 and set to include 173 FM construction permits. Only one noncommercial station, Boston's WGBH, walked away from the last auction with a new channel.
Tonight's rebroadcast of "Death of a Princess," which Frontline first presented on PBS in 1980 despite objections from the State Department and Mobil Oil, asks whether the condition of women in Saudi Arabia has improved since the film first aired. A New York Times critic observes that one change seems indisputable: "pressure from Christian fundamentalists and conservatives has all but emasculated PBS."

Apr 14, 2005

The Miami-Dade School Board, licensee of WLRN-FM/TV, voted 5-4 to expand the school superintendent's authority over the stations, letting him enlarge a Haitian creole radio program from 10 minutes to its original half hour, start a monthly public affairs show and push for the stations to identify themselves more closely with the schools, the Herald reported.

Apr 11, 2005

"I care about poetry as a place where people are still able to express powerful feelings, and this is rare," says Garrison Keillor in the Hartford Courant as he discusses his tastes in reading and media.
WFAE-FM in Charlotte has tested two supplemental digital broadcast channels, the first station to do so, reports Radio World.
From Saturday's Washington Post, TV critic Lisa de Moraes offers her take on CPB's Friday evening announcement of President Kathleen Cox's impending departure: "One of the things you learn as a cub reporter at the Podunk Independent is that when a company puts out a news release at 5 p.m. on a Friday ... something big and unpleasant is up. Or, more usually, someone's out."

Apr 7, 2005

"Imagine laughing and learning with Elmo, Big Bird and even Oscar any time of the day," says Sesame Workshop President Gary Knell in a Washington Post story on the launch event for PBS Kids Sprout, the digital programming service for preschoolers in which the Workshop and PBS hold an equity stake with Comcast and Hit Entertainment. As the deadline for public TV stations to sign affiliation marketing agreements with the digital service neared, the Boston Globe reported that WGBH was negotiating for special provisions that would allow it to keep operating its local digital preschool channel.

Apr 6, 2005

Bruce Warren, p.d. at WXPN-FM in Philadelphia, has a blog where he links to articles and even shares music files.
The Baltimore Sun profiles "Gerry from Pikesville," an 81-year-old retiree who has made regular calls to Diane Rehm, Talk of the Nation and local talk shows for almost four decades. "I get a lot of e-mails about Gerry," says WYPR-FM host Marc Steiner. "People love him and say we should have him on as a guest, and other people say can't you shut him up?"

Apr 5, 2005

NPR's Rick Karr is seeking funds to produce TechnoPop, a "four-part, six-hour, public-television style series" about the intersection of music and technology.
"Total subscribers at XM and its competitor, Sirius Satellite Radio, will probably surpass eight million by the end of year, making satellite radio one of the fastest-growing technologies ever — faster, for example, than cellphones," reports the New York Times.

Apr 4, 2005

New York's WNYC has compiled its podcast links on one page on its website.
Barry University intends to transfer ownership of WXEL-TV/FM in Palm Beach, Fla., to New York's WNET and a community foundation established by WXEL's local supporters. "WXEL is turning from being university-owned into being community-owned," says Richard Zaretsky, president of the Community Broadcasting Foundation of Palm Beach County.
"[T]rue diversity won't come from propping [Ed] Gordon or [Tavis] Smiley up in shows that stand as islands of black culture in a sea of white-focused programs," writes St. Petersburg Times columnist Eric Deggans. "Public radio needs to stop transcending or targeting and integrate a little more."

Apr 1, 2005

Another PBS Friday night show will sunset in June — Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered. Producing station WETA in Washington cited Carlson's relocation to MSNBC, where he soon will host a nightly program, as the reason for the PBS show's demise. But, during its year on the air, Unfiltered didn't secure an underwriter. The Washington Post speculates on whether Carlson will drop his "conservative cliche" bow-tie for his new MSNBC gig (scroll down to second item).
Houston's KUHT decided not to affiliate with the new digital cable service in which PBS holds an ownership stake. Advertising on the yet-to-be named service for preschoolers violates the noncommercial safe haven that KUHT provides for local audiences, John Hesse, station manager, tells the New York Times.
Tonight's episode of Now, says the Washington Times, is "a heartbreaking half-hour, albeit one that could restore your faith in the ability of television -- or at least PBS' corner of it -- to tell stories that matter."