Feb 24, 2006

Public radio can't blame competition from satellite radio for its recent audience slump, according to the latest installment of the Radio Research Consortium's Audience 2010 study (PDF). The study also suggests that public radio has little reason to withhold NPR's flagship newsmagazines from broadcast on satellite. Pubradio consultant John Sutton agrees. "To remain a significant media choice, NPR needs to have its best programming available in real time on all delivery platforms," Sutton writes. "This is a sacrifice stations will have to make."

Feb 23, 2006

Attendees at this year's Public Broadcasting New Media Conference are blogging about the conference here.

Feb 22, 2006

The Palm Beach Post reports and editorializes on the Florida State Board of Education's unanimous vote yesterday approving the sale of local pubcasting stations WXEL-TV/FM.
Nine more stations have added American Public Television's Create, a digital multicast channel featuring cooking, travel, painting and other how-to programming. This brings the total number of stations carrying Create to 157 (controlled by 84 licensees), reaching nearly 64 percent of US TV households.
"[W]e strongly feel that debating the Armenian Genocide is akin to arguing about the Jewish Holocaust in order to project a sense of balance," says an online petition circulated by Armenian-Americans who object to PBS's decision to pair the April 17 debut of The Armenian Genocide, a documentary by Andrew Goldberg, with a follow-up panel discussion. More than 11,000 individuals from around the world have signed the petition. NPR's Scott Simon moderates the half-hour follow-up show, in which scholars debate the Turkish government's role in the deaths of Armenian civilians during and after World War I, a sensitive topic in U.S. diplomacy, reports the Washington Post. In an online column defending a threatened boycott of PBS stations, Armenian activist and Publisher Harut Sassounian writes: "[R]emaining silent in the face of one-sided pressure on PBS by the Turkish government would be going along with Turkey’s offensive efforts to bury or tarnish the truth." In a column published today, Sassounian calls on supporters to ask their members of Congress to demand that PBS drop the panel discussion.

Feb 21, 2006

"[I]n the 17 months since he jumped to pay radio, Edwards has displayed more range and reportorial chops than some at NPR had given him credit for," writes the Washington Post's Marc Fisher about Bob Edwards and his XM Radio show.
Minnesota Public Radio is suing Al Gore's television channel over the name "Current," reports the New York Sun.

Feb 15, 2006

CPB isn't covered by the Freedom of Information Act, so nonprofits probing Ken Tomlinson's period as chairman continue trying to use FOIA to spring CPB-related documents from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a U.S. panel Tomlinson still chairs. Common Cause, Center for Digital Democracy and Free Press yesterday appealed [PDF] BBG's rejection of their Nov. 22 FOIA request. Their lawyer, David L. Sobel, requested e-mails, phone logs and other records relating to Tomlinson's CPB work, particularly communications with the White House. BBG official Martha Diaz-Ortiz told them in January that the documents would be "personal records" beyond FOIA's reach.

Feb 13, 2006

A warm reception among critics at the Berlin International Film Festival has made the film realization of A Prairie Home Companion a contender for a prestigious award, reports the Guardian.
"With [Bill] Marimow taking over as vice president of news this week, the print guys may have completed their takeover" of NPR, writes Harry Jaffe in the Washingtonian.
Newsman Dan Rather will be on hand today in Marfa, Texas, to help launch KRTS-FM, a new public radio station serving the small town and its sparsely populated surroundings. "There's probably a big part of the population here that has never heard of NPR," says a resident in the New York Times. (More coverage in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)
NPR will soon start broadcasting to Berlin on a frequency recently vacated by Voice of America. It's the first station the network has ever operated on its own. Never fear, Berliners: there will be no pledge drives.

Feb 8, 2006

NPR reports on a Class D high-school station in Massachusetts trying to protect its license from takeover by a California religiocaster.
The weekly cume audience for WVXU-FM in Cincinnati jumped by 35 percent after a switch to an all-news format last summer, reports the Cincinnati Post. "I don't think any of us expected such a great start for the new WVXU," said Richard Eiswerth, g.m.
This American Life's deal to produce a TV show requires the show's relocation to New York, reports the Chicago Reader — a change host Ira Glass says won't matter much. "I work 70 hours a week. Sometimes it feels like I'd be doing the same program if I lived on the space shuttle."
Michael Getler of PBS, Jeffrey Dvorkin of NPR and two other ombuds recently got together to chat with Marvin Kalb about their work and the state of the media. Quotes and blurry photos at FishbowlDC.
NPR has named Bill Marimow v.p. of news. Marimow joined the network in May 2004 as managing editor and recently served as acting news veep after the departure of Bruce Drake. His long career in journalism has included tenures at the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Baltimore Sun.
Al Lewis, who played Grandpa Munster on television's The Munsters and hosted a show on Pacifica's WBAI-FM in New York, died Friday at the age of 82, reports USA Today. Monday's Democracy Now featured an excerpt of a 1997 interview with Lewis. NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu also contributed a remembrance.
A commercial AM station in Buffalo, N.Y., is airing a mix of programming from Pacifica and Air America, reports the Billboard Radio Monitor.
Bill Marimow, v.p. of NPR News, explains why the network has not posted on its website the European cartoon that has offended Muslims around the world: "[T]he cartoon is so highly offensive to millions of Muslims that it's preferable to describe it in words rather than posting it on the Web." NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin sides with Marimow.

Feb 7, 2006

"I hate to say this but if PBS can't see the value of PBS YOU, I don't see the point of supporting local stations," writes a viewer from Pennsylvania, one of many who wrote to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler about the demise of PBS You.
Buried in the worst possible timeslot on the Fox News Channel, Journal Editorial Report is a "TV conspiracy for dittoheads," writes Slate media critic Jack Shafer.

Feb 6, 2006

Surprise, surprise: Pubcasters may have another federal funding crisis on their hands. President Bush's $2.77 trillion budget for 2007, released earlier today, cuts CPB's 2007 appropriation from $400 million to $346.5 million and includes none of the $65 million pubcasters requested for digital transition and satellite system funding. It also would slightly cut Ready to Learn funding, from $24.5 million in 2006 to $24 million for 2007, and includes no money for either Ready to Teach ($11 million in 2006) or the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program ($22 million in 2006), a valuable grant source both for hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast pubcasters and for smaller stations still completing digital build-outs. "If enacted, these FY 2007 funding levels would represent a 24.7 percent reduction from CPB's FY 2006 levels, and would be felt in all CPB programs, including station CSGs,"CPB President Pat Harrison said in a statement. ". . . Needless to say, we at CPB are very disappointed by the funding levels for public broadcasting recommended in the President's budget." The White House also proposed a $50 million cut to CPB's $400 million 2008 appropriation and, as has been typical for this Administration, called for no advance CPB funding--the Public Broadcasting Act mandates that CPB appropriations be set two years in advance. "Rather than embrace the overwhelming, bi-partisan majority who supported public broadcasting a few months ago," APTS said in a statement, "the Administration is charging ahead in laying the foundation for the elimination of public broadcasting in America." Congress will take the President's budget recommendations under advisement as they begin writing budget bills in a few months. FY 2007 begins Oct. 1, 2006, but federal budgets are rarely finalized before the beginning of the fiscal year. The 2006 budget, for example, wasn't completed until last December. CPB's budget request to Congress, which it will send to the Hill this week, calls for a $430 million advance appropriation for FY 2009; and $40 million for digital conversion, $36 million for television interconnection, and $32 million for Ready to Learn for FY 2007. See also the New York Times and Bloomberg.
Public radio consultant John Sutton rounds up some mixed thoughts. Among them: "A key question for program directors today -- 'Is the program I have on the air right now better than any of the programs sitting on the listener's iPod?'"
A fire destroyed the studio equipment of KOOP-FM in Austin, Texas, Saturday, knocking the station off the air temporarily. KOOP's building suffered damage in another fire only a month ago. (See video of the fire on the website of Austin's News8 TV station.)

Feb 3, 2006

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on War News Radio, the show about the Iraq War produced by students at Swarthmore College. "Getting in touch with Iraqis has not been the insurmountable challenge it seemed to be at the start," a student says. "You run into more brick walls trying to get someone in the U.S. military to talk to you." (Another story from the AP.)
A $1.35 million CPB grant will fund a project by pubTV stations in upstate New York to link via fiber optic cable, allowing them to share programming without relying on the satellite system. "We've got our own high-speed network between stations now. Geography is down to zero," Robert Daino, president of WCNY in Syracuse, told the Associated Press (via Newsday).

Feb 1, 2006

Beginning today (Feb. 1), selected interviews from WHYY's Fresh Air with Terry Gross will be available via Comcast's on demand service in greater Philadephia, southern New Jersey and Deleware. ". . .Fresh Air ON DEMAND marries Gross' audio interviews with scrolling pictures of the celebrities and streaming facts about their lives, work and careers," said WHYY President Bill Marrazzo. Interviews with Johnny Cash, Jane Fonda, Ray Charles, Dan Aykroyd and George Clooney are available in February. (reg. required; station site)