Mar 15, 2010

APTS President Larry Sidman will step down April 1

Larry Sidman, president of the Association of Public Television Stations for the past year, will resign as of April 1, he told Current today.

AE to make broadcast history with Facebook premiere of "Earth Days" doc

PBS will score a broadcast first when American Experience posts its "Earth Days" doc on Facebook before its broadcast premiere, reports the New York Times. Mark Samuels, American Experience e.p., said the showing -- which will include PBS underwriting credits -- is an experiment. “It’s an opportunity, we think, to engage with a new audience, an audience that we may not be bringing to PBS Monday nights at 9 o’clock,” he told the paper. It'll hit the social networking site April 11, and TV on April 18. Fans on Facebook will also be able to interact there with Samuels as well as the film's producer, Robert Stone.

Dire "State of News Media" provides in-depth look at revamped "PBS Newshour"

"State of the News Media 2010," this year's annual report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, warns that the "the losses suffered in traditional news gathering in the last year were so severe that by any accounting they overwhelm the innovations in the world of news and journalism." The massive report includes an analysis of the revamped PBS NewsHour, which recently melded its online and on-air coverage (Current, Jan. 11). The show had a 0.8 for the 2008-09 season, flat from 'o7-08. David Sit, v.p. of NewsHour and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, told researchers that excluding a $5.2 million grant for coverage of the 2008 presidential election, the program budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 increased 15 percent, about $3.5 million, to $27.7 million. The budget increase was primarily due to more corporate underwriting in the 2009-10 fiscal year, which went from $5.7 million in '08-09 to $10 million in '09-10. Sit also said that in February 2010, website traffic had increased about 30 percent in year-over-year comparisons. Video downloads also doubled.

Battle of the roadshows: Antiques vs. Treasure Hunters, Round 2

WGBH has filed a federal lawsuit in Illinois, alleging that the Treasure Hunters Roadshow violates the Antiques Roadshow trademark and participates in unfair competition and unfair business practices. “We believe there are many people who have been confused and the things such as the prominent use of 'roadshow' and the 'treasure chest' are leading to that confusion,” Eric Brass, corporate counsel for the WGBH Educational Foundation, told the Mount Vernon Register-News. WGBH had filed a similar suit in 1999 against the International Toy Collectors Association, the precursor to Treasure Hunters Roadshow; that was settled out of court. Matt Enright, v.p. of media relations for THR & Associates, told the paper: "You can’t trademark the name roadshow. ... They don’t know anything about our business. I think they’re scared because we have a new show coming out in the fall. We have a better show and exciting event that people enjoy.”

Virginia reduces pubcasting funding 15 percent over two years

Virginia's General Assembly adjourned yesterday after approving a two-year budget that slashes millions from various services in the commonwealth, including pubcasting, reports the Washington Post. Community Idea Stations, in Richmond and Charlottesville, get a 15 percent drop in funds over the next two years. States nationwide are targeting pubcasting as budgets dwindle (Current, Jan. 25).

NABET workers to protest NPR contract demands

Broadcast technicians will mount a protest outside NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., at noon today. The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-Communications Workers of America is negotiating on behalf of 65 employees whose union contract expires this month. Members of the unit agreed to deep wage and benefit cuts to help alleviate NPR's budget crisis last year. The union is objecting to NPR's demands for the next contract, which include a wage freeze, benefit reductions and proposals to remove bargaining rights over benefits and eliminate more than half of the bargaining unit's jobs, according to the NABET website.