Jan 25, 2008

NTIA: Converter boxes coming next month

Electronics manufacturers and retailers will have digital-to-analog converter boxes on store shelves by Feb. 18, said Meredith Baker, acting head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The NTIA, which is running the federal converter box program, also announced plans for special consumer education projects, including a "application completion" week in September in which churches and other community organizations will help people apply for $40 coupons for the converters. As of Wednesday, consumers had applied for 3.7 million of the coupons, the NTIA said. A recent APTS survey found that 40 percent of over-the-air households would rather get their digital TV via converters, as opposed to 12 percent who said they'd subscribe to cable or satellite. Some electronics execs have been nervous that the industry would be able to meet the demand.

NYT: Kernis's TV job is at CNN

Jay Kernis will leave NPR to become managing editor at CNN, according to the New York Times' TV Decoder blog. NPR announced Kernis's departure internally Jan. 23. Kernis has served as NPR's senior v.p. for programming for seven years.

Humble Farmer angles for TV placement

Maine's Humble Farmer, booted from the state's public radio network after refusing to tone down his political rants, is mounting a return to broadcasting via public-access TV, reports the Kennebec Journal. The Farmer, whose real name is Robert Skoglund, has said that 28 stations plan to air his show or consider it. "I see public access TV as one of the last bastions of free speech, and I really disagree with what happened to him," said a manager at one station.

Crossroads film gets Oscar nod

Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which aired as part of PBS's America at a Crossroads series, has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. The Documentary Group production dramatized writings by veterans of the Iraq War in a variety of styles and featured vets from previous wars talking about their experiences. Operation stirred up less controversy than the other Crossroads films (previous coverage in Current) but earned positive attention from critics.

Funding boost moves WTVP closer to survival

WTVP in Peoria, Ill., is $1.5 million closer to staying in business, reports the (Bloomington) Pantagraph. Several major donors contributed the sum, bringing the station's outstanding debt to $500,000. As Current has reported, WTVP hit financial trouble after borrowing to build new facilities and failing to reach the fundraising levels agreed on by its creditors.