Feb 5, 2009

Stations must tell FCC of early analog shutoffs by Feb. 9

Stations that want to end analog service by Feb. 17, the original DTV transition date, now have a Feb. 9 deadline to inform the FCC. Stations must also air at least 120 PSA's between now and Feb. 17 telling viewers of the transition. These rules are contingent on the president's signature on the date-delay bill, which is expected soon.

21 percent of small stations financially "fragile," CPB says

Public broadcasting revenue could decline some $418 million in FY09 alone, according to a CPB preliminary report presented at its January meeting in San Francisco (PPT). It estimates a potential drop of $292 million for pubTV (16 percent of revenues) and $126 million for pubradio (13 percent). Some 21 percent of stations with operating budgets under $10 million are considered financially "fragile" in the report; of those, 70 percent are community licensees. CPB's next board meeting is March 17-18 in Washington; more comprehensive details are expected then.

Inside, Worldfocus blamed for layoffs

Worldfocus, the new international news program from WNET/WLIW is "being blamed for deep layoffs at the stations," reports the New York Times. "Some employees, none of whom would speak publicly for fear of angering management," blame parent company's spending on the new venture--$8 million, which came from company's operating budget--for the loss of about 80 jobs two weeks ago. Many of the layoffs were in the local programming department. Neal Shapiro, president of, told the Times the layoffs were unrelated to Worldfocus. Instead, he cited declining underwriting and foundation funding as well as a decrease in endowment earnings and member support. Worldfocus landed its first outside financing last week, a $1 million grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. A WNET trustee matched that with another $1 million and two unnamed people contributed $500,000. 

Rockefeller cautions stations on DTV delay

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is asking TV stations to "put consumers first" when considering switching from analog to digital before the new deadline of June 12. The senator, who heads up the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement: "While broadcasters are still permitted to move forward on Feb. 17, and some will do so, I hope that many will think of the needs of their customers and carefully weigh their options. This bill gives them an opportunity to stay the course through to June 12 until more help can be put in place."