Jan 14, 2009

New FCC may be more Internet-tech oriented

A Washington Post analysis piece on the probable next FCC head Julius Genachowski says that President-elect Barack Obama's choice may signal increased focus on new Internet technologies for the regulatory agency.

A new underwriting avenue?

Penn State Public Broadcasting is exploring taking underwriting into an additional and creative direction: Multiplatform opportunities. In a Jan. 14 session at the ongoing NETA conference in Tampa, Greg Petersen, WPSU director of programming services, said there may be room for underwriting spots on, say, streaming video or archived clips on the Internet. One attractive aspect is that Internet content doesn't have noncomm restrictions, so the spots can actually suggest that viewers visit underwriters -- more of a true ad. Petersen envisions, for instance, a spot before a video clip saying it's sponsored by an underwriter. When pubcasters ponder multicasting, Petersen added, it takes "not thinking outside the box but thinking completely differently." WPSU was also an early adapter of YouTube, with its own channel.

Creative ways to meet DTV challenge

Pubcasters brought many questions and nearly as many suggestions for handling the DTV transition to NETA's Jan. 14 session on the topic. Stations are struggling with the possible date shift and wondering, will they be required to remain in analog until that later date? An NTIA rep said legislation is still pending so it's impossible to know. What if the station advises a viewer to purchase equipment that ultimately doesn't work, is there a liability issue? Hard to say. More liability issues include station staff entering viewers' home to fix reception problems. WKNO in Memphis is partnering with a local senior volunteer organization that has the necessary insurance; those volunteers are being trained to do the fixes. Also of service to viewers at WPSU in Pennsylvania: A Google map showing its coverage area for viewers to type in an address and see if they'll still receive a signal or will have problems. In general, reps from several stations that have already converted advise that viewer rescans of receivers are helpful. The NETA conference runs through Friday in Tampa.

Downsizing plan in the works at KQED

A spokesman for San Francisco's KQED-TV/FM confirmed the gist of a Jan. 10 blog report about imminent lay-offs at the station but denied that they would be the largest in station history, as reported by BNET media analyst and former KQED exec David Weir. KQED is "seeing declines and looking to the future of how do we preserve what we have with integrity and all of that, but no decisions have been made," said Scott Walton, communications director. Layoffs are "not necessarily coming from radio or tv production," but will probably "a few here and around the building," he said.