Mar 6, 2008

Ken Stern resigns as NPR CEO

CEO Ken Stern is leaving NPR, the network's board of directors announced today. The board did not explain why Stern was leaving, but several unnamed sources suggested reasons to NPR's own Frank Langfitt. Dennis Haarsager, chair of NPR's board, is taking over as interim CEO. Washington Post: "NPR Leader Out After Board Clash." LA Observed has the memo from Haarsager.

FCC will consider proposal to reallocate TV spectrum for FM

The FCC will seek comment on a recommendation to reallocate television channels 5 and 6 for FM broadcasting, according to a notice released yesterday [scroll to page 35]. The proposal, advanced via a petition filed by Maryland-based Mullaney Engineering, addresses the "gigantic pent-up demand for additional FM spectrum" and will help redress the inefficient allocation of spectrum on TV channels 2-6, according to the Mullaney petition. Rec Networks reports that the proposed reallocation could open up an additional 60 FM channels. The FCC will not accept comments until the notice of proposed rulemaking on broadcast diversity (MB Docket 07-294) appears in the Federal Register.

NPR's new HQ to be property tax-free for two decades

NPR will not have to pay property taxes on its new home near Washington's Union Station for 20 years, reports the Washington Post. The tax abatement offered by the District of Columbia, worth an estimated $40 million, was a major reason NPR opted to remain in Washington, D.C., rather than move to nearby Silver Spring, Md., home of Discovery Communications. Mediabistro posted internal memos and an FAQ about the move here.

No guarantee for local bid to take over Salt Lake's KCPW

The station manager charged with creating an independent nonprofit and viable financial plan to purchase KCPW in Salt Lake City launched a website appealing for public support. Ed Sweeney, who gave up his job at KCPW last week, established the Utah nonprofit Wasatch Public Media and is working with Public Radio Capital on a bid for the station. Even though Community Wireless, KCPW's current licensee, gave Sweeney first pass at creating a plan for KCPW to retain its staff and its current NPR news/information format, there's no guarantee that Sweeney's plan will be chosen over those of other potential buyers, he writes on the website. "Although Community Wireless has stated their preference for our purchase of KCPW, at this point, we have nothing in writing that allows that to occur," Sweeney writes. "We need to show Community Wireless NOW that there are others who support Wasatch Public Media's purchase of KCPW." Meanwhile, KCPW canceled a planned special broadcast on the station's future, which was to have featured an interview with Sweeney,

Ken Burns pens op-ed in support of PBS

In a piece for the Los Angeles Times, Ken Burns responds to "grandstanding politicians who believe that public television must be de-funded" and "misguided cultural critics who mistake our mission and demand of us something we are not." PBS is "obligated to serve the public in a number of decidedly unsexy ways," he writes, and while it isn't as fast-paced as commercial TV, pubTV persists in "doing things well and doing things that last." In response to suggestions that PBS should have to compete in the marketplace like other media outlets, Burns writes, "Many blessing have flowed to America from that marketplace, but I am certain that none of the films I have made in the last nearly 30 years could have been produced anywhere but at PBS."