Sep 1, 2009

Florida pubcasters apply for $22 million broadband grant

The 20 stations comprising Florida Public Broadcasting Service have applied for a $22 million grant through stimulus funds from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's $4.7 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, reports The Tampa Bay Business Journal. The funding would be used to build on the stations' coverage of the state to create a broadband network linking schools, public safety and health care facilities and other critical institutions. The new high-speed network would link to Florida LambdaRail, which already connects research institutions. The grant should be awarded by September 2010.

Burns' doc inspires $500,000 grant from National Park Foundation

The National Park Foundation is providing half a million dollars to establish a nationwide grant program to reach underserved visitors, it announced yesterday. The foundation said it was "inspired" to do so by Ken Burns' documentary The National Parks: America's Best Idea, which premieres Sept. 27 on PBS. Thirty-five parks nationwide will use the funds to develop outreach strategies and engagement programs for folks who don't usually visit the parks--primarily people of color, according to the foundation's press release.

WGBH tells paper more reductions coming

More cutbacks are on the way at WGBH, The Boston Globe reports, although station management declined to offer specifics. The station, which produces more than a third of PBS's primetime lineup, continues to struggle. “We’re making a lot of difficult choices,’’ chief exec Jonathan C. Abbott told the paper. The paper points out the station has a nearly $7 million shortfall to correct; see Current's Aug. 3 story for details on that. WGBH also had layoffs in December (Current, Dec. 22, 2008) amounting to 2 percent of its workforce.

KCET revs up wildfire news coverage, advises over-the-air viewers to watch online

"Right now the fire is the boss," a supervisor for the U.S. Forest Service tells an LA Times correspondent in this report on fire fighters' efforts to protect the communications center on Mt. Wilson. Meanwhile, KCET-TV in Los Angeles, one of six pubcasters with transmitters on the site, has distinguished itself among LA's TV outlets by ramping up its news coverage of the wildfires in the Angeles National Forest, according to the blog LA Observed. Yesterday the station began airing reports on the fire every half hour; SoCal Connected, KCET's local public affairs series, created a special website for wildfire news. The site includes a video anchored by KCET President Al Jerome, who warns viewers that the station may lose its broadcast signal. Classical KUSC, which also has a transmitter on Mt. Wilson, has begun broadcasting from a back-up transmitter on Lookout Mountain in the Hollywood Hills. UPDATE: With help from KUSC, Pasadena's KPCC-FM has made back-up plans to switch to a transmitter at the same location if necessary. The transmitter will operate at relatively low power and height, KPCC says in a news release, but will cover a significant portion of the station's normal broadcast area in Los Angeles and Orange County. Engineers from both KUSC and KPCC worked overnight to set up the transmitter. KPCC is also bringing in reporters from Minnesota Public Radio, its parent station in the American Public Media Group, and San Diego's KPBS, as it expands its wildfire coverage.