Dec 4, 2008

CPB, PBS to evaluate Challenge Fund

CPB has released its FY 2009 Business Plan, which details use of discretionary funds. Up for evaluation is the Challenge Fund, a joint effort with PBS to fund programs that draw a larger audience. "We will investigate alternative methods for attracting and developing these projects," according to the plan. The 10-part PBS series Carrier, which won widespread critical acclaim, was a Challenge Fund project. CPB also will select one or more of the seven project prototypes in the American History & Civics Initiative for full production funding. The American Archive project moves ahead with grants to stations and content producers to digitize and preserve local content. The two-year-old Local Service Initiative matching grant program will be scrutinized "with a view towards making appropriate adjustments to the initiative in future grant rounds." The full 14-page document is available online.

Kerger fancies newsgathering partnership with NPR

PBS President Paula Kerger says the network is "thinking very carefully about what role we will play in news coverage moving forward,” adding that PBS continues to look at “different ways we can partner” with NPR. She spoke to blogger Leonard Witt, a media prof at Georgia's Kennesaw State University after her speech at an Atlanta Press Club luncheon Dec. 3. One hurdle to PBS’ newsgathering capabilities: funding. The radio network has “made a huge commitment to newsgathering. And in part they’ve been able to do that because they were the beneficiaries of a substantial bequest from Joan Kroc,” a $200 million infusion that NPR received in November 2003. A wishful admission from Kerger: “I am looking for public television’s version of Joan Kroc.” Witt is an advocate of what he calls "Representative Journalism," which involves citizen reporters, and thinks the model may suit PBS' needs. Here is more coverage of Kerger's Atlanta appearance.