Jan 27, 2010

Commercials on IPTV? Ah, no

Peter Morrill, g.m. of IdahoPTV, appeared before the joint state finance-appropriation committee today in an attempt to persuade members against phasing out all funding over the next four years. One question, from Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican from Terreton: Why doesn't IPTV just sell commercials instead of taking state money? Because federal law prohibits that, Morrill explained.

Forget mobile DTV, Proffitt says

Pubmedia blogger and former pubcaster John Proffitt disagrees — strongly — with the the support of CPB, PBS, APTS and NETA for mobile DTV. "All momentum is in the opposite direction," he writes, referencing Current's story. "You seriously think that just by creating yet another distribution channel — one that competes with existing popular channels — millenials will suddenly get interested in news and public affairs programs? . . . “Oooh! Washington Week on my mobile phone? Check it out Kayleigh!”

KCSM fundraiser falls far short; station faces sale

Dual licensee KCSM in San Mateo, Calif., has raised only $30,000 of its $1 million goal to stave off being sold, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Tonight, the San Mateo County Community College District board is considering whether a plan to lease digital streams will generate enough revenue to sustain the station. The strategy could generate $750,000 to $1.3 million a year. The 1.5 million watt station broadcasts to San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and is carried on 60 cable systems. Last year it dropped PBS membership to save money.

Pubcasting funding down, "more cuts, some severe" in FY11

PubTV funding is down $200 million and radio is down $38 million, the CPB Board heard at today's meeting at headquarters in Washington. Mark Erstling, senior veep for system development, and Bruce Theriault, senior veep, radio, presented the figures providing comparisons between actual FY08 totals and FY09 estimates. Also discussed: Waning state support (see this week's Current for details). Board member Bruce Ramer expressed concern about community service grants being tied to the amount of state funding a station receives. "Maybe state funds should not be included in the formula in the same way that federal funds aren't," Ramer suggested. Theriault predicted that for FY11, "we expect many more cuts, some severe." Meanwhile, another station has been accepted for financial stabilization assistance, NPR affiliate WICN, playing jazz and folk in Worcester, Mass. In station equipment news, CPB will continue investing in master controls -- but only for collaborating stations. "We continue to hear about stations pursuing efficiencies and strengthening business models through collaborations and local management agreements where the weaker station is now run by the stronger," Theriault said. "We're encouraging that work."

Seymour sings her own song in farewell interview

KCRW's Ruth Seymour offers some advice to her yet-to-be-named successor in next month's edition of Los Angeles Magazine: stay focused on creating great programming for radio listeners. "[T]he reason people listen is that they’re intrigued or fascinated or interested in the content," she says in an extended Q & A to be published on the eve of her retirement. "That’s the most important thing to remember, and it is the thing that increasingly concerns me—that independent producers, the people who are the creative types, are marginalized today in favor of the technology people. It’s a real failure not to understand that the business you’re in is programming." NPR itself would benefit from shifting its focus back to creating new programming, she adds. "It cannot simply invest in Morning Edition and All Things Considered. It must be seen—and it isn’t now—as a place that welcomes independent productions. NPR doesn’t have a program director right now who listens to new stuff....Instead the focus at NPR is online. The Internet gives NPR a voice to go over the heads of the local stations, OK? That’s the big danger." With its eclectic mix of contemporary music and news programming, KCRW has built a radio and web service that reaches far beyond the Los Angeles market; Seymour dismisses the notion that stations would benefit from uniting online behind NPR's brand. "We are not interested. We want to sing our own song."