Sep 13, 2010

Getler, PBS ombudsman, wades deeper into Nova climate-change controversy

"Warning: This Is a Long Column," writes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler. It's his second piece on viewers raising questions about the financial support of billionaire David H. Koch for Nova's "Becoming Human" series. The issue is a complicated one, with Nova raising the ire of several letter writers by using a Smithsonian scientist to address the issue of climate change, when the Smithsonian's David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins was founded by Koch -- who is a skeptic that global warming is occurring.

Pubcasters get part of Knight Foundation's $3.14 million for 19 community initiatives

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today (Sept. 13) announced $3.14 million in matching grants for 19 more community-based projects as part of its five-year Knight Community Information Challenge. More than 75 other initiatives have been funded so far.

Several public broadcasters are recipients or partners in this third round of funding, including:

-- Hiki No, PBS Hawaii, $240,500: To create a statewide student news network linking middle and high schools across the islands. Called Hiki No, Hawaiian for “can do,” the journalism network, in partnership with the PBS affiliate, will produce newscasts on air and online.

-- NOWCastSA/Texas Week, KLRN-TV, San Antonio, $205,500: Local news site and previous challenge winner, NowCastSA, will partner with the PBS affiliate to increase the site’s visibility and use.

-- Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc., $175,500: The state’s public radio and TV stations will create an online news hub to host hyperlocal blogs and virtual community “think tanks” on arts and culture, Alaskan natives and local business. Organizers will make a special push to include the voices and contributions of rural Alaskans.

Pew finds blending of digital and traditional news sources in media consumption

Instead of replacing their traditional news outlets, Americans are actually integrating new technologies into their media habits, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More than 36 percent of Americans got news from both digital and traditional sources the day before they were surveyed, which is just under the number who relied solely on traditional sources, 39 percent.

And news audiences are drawn to different sources for different reasons, the survey points out: Headlines, entertainment, in-depth reporting, views and opinions, or a combination. For regular NPR listeners, for instance, "no single reason stands out as to why people watch, read or listen," the survey says. Some 28 percent of regular NPR listeners cite several, or all, of the reasons listed, while nearly as many say they listen for the latest news 21 percent or for in-depth reporting 20 percent.

Another interesting finding: Men and women differ in their news consumption on digital platforms. Around 50 percent of men and 39 percent of women get news on the Internet and mobile technology on any given day. Men are more likely to get news by cell phone, email, RSS feeds or podcasts than are women; men and women are equally likely to get news through Twitter or social networking sites.

The biennial news consumption survey was conducted June 8-28 on cell phones and landlines among 3,006 adults; more on methodology here.

WNET puzzled by use of its content on new live TV app from Seattle's ivi

The Seattle based ivi today (Sept. 13) launched an app that it claims will provide subscribers live access to more than 20 channels including ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW and PBS for $4.99 a month. One catch: Networks that are "involved" with this that were contacted by the Wrap entertainment and media news website knew nothing of their inclusion, much less had even heard of ivi.

"Clearly, ivi is operating in a legal gray area," the Wrap said. "It argues that its status as a cable company allows it to have servers set up in several markets -- initially New York and Seattle -- that receive transmissions of television signals that originated with other servers and then retransmit them through their app. Yet, because it is online only, ivi maintains it is not governed by the Federal Communication Commission and consequently does not have to pay retransmission fees in the way that a Comcast or Cablevision would."

WNET's programming is included in the schedule on ivi's website. Kellie Specter, spokesperson for Thirteen in New York City, told Current: "WNET doesn't have a partnership with ivi, so we're not sure why our content would be in their channel guide or listings."

Kevin Dando, PBS's director, digital and education communications, also told Current that PBS has no relationship with ivi.

On its website, ivi explains: "Since 2007, ivi has been hard at work innovating the way to bring TV online with the professional quality the very word television entails. ivi has patents pending for its content protection and consistent television viewing technologies, and is bringing TV online, wherever you want to be."