Oct 15, 2010

Major Market Group presents new namesake award to Bill Kobin

The Public Television Major Market Group honored Bill Kobin, outgoing MMG president, on Wednesday (Oct. 13) at its meeting in Denver, just in time for Kobin's second attempt to retire. Kobin originally retired in 1996 after a long and influential career in pubcasting, including positions at National Educational Television (forerunner of PBS), the Children's Television Workshop, and as CEO of KTCA in Minneapolis and KCET in Los Angeles. In 1996, Kobin decided to work for MMG "for awhile," incoming President Lloyd Wright of WFYI in Indianapolis told Current. "And 14 years later, he has announced his second retirement."

At the meeting the group also announced its new William Kobin Public Television Leadership Award. "We presented the first award to Bill himself, and plan on giving the award periodically to a worthy recipient who has impacted public television," Wright said.

New Jersey Network needs "reconfiguration," legislative committee recommends

In a 20-page report released today (Oct. 15), a 10-member bipartisan New Jersey Legislature committee called for "a dramatic reconfiguration" of New Jersey Network, reports the Star-Ledger in Newark. Gov. Chris Christie (R) earlier this year had recommended ending state funding (Current, July 6, 2010). The report also rejected Christie's deadline of Jan. 1, 2011, for a transfer of the state-supported pubcasting network to an independent entity. Also, the paper is reporting that there's plenty of activity behind the scenes. One possibility is a partnership between New Jersey broadcasters and WNET/Thirteen in New York City. Or Montclair State University could take a key role in production of NJN content. Steve Adubato Jr., president of Caucus Educational Corporation, a nonprofit producer of several pubaffairs shows on NJN and WNET, said the governor and members of the task force have expressed interest in his proposed consortium of WNET and other media outlets.

Ready to Learn gets nearly $72 million, CPB and PBS announce

CPB and PBS just announced (Oct. 15) almost $72 million in federal grants for the Ready to Learn early childhood literacy campaign from the U.S. Department of Education. The two submitted a joint application in June in response to an RFP to fund "research, development and deployment of transmedia content to improve the math and literacy skills of children ages 2-8, especially those living in poverty," according to the announcement. The grant provides around $15 million annually from 2010 to 2015. It's the fourth Ready to Learn grant to CPB and PBS since 1995 (Current, June 6, 1994). The money will fund multiplatform content to teach literacy skills to children 2 to 8 years old. PBS will work with affiliates, children's producers, educational technologists, university and community partners and researchers on projects. The money comes through the Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Nova moving to Wednesdays, themed nights ahead for upcoming PBS primetime

Big changes are coming in PBS's winter/spring 2011 primetime schedule — including a shift for Nova from its longtime Tuesday slot to Wednesdays, and two themed content nights.

A Thursday (Oct. 14) memo to station execs and programmers says the weekly Nielsen ratings that PBS began using last year, an improvement over the previous monthly numbers, provided a "depth of audience data" to allow it to "better optimize audience potential for our content." In the case of Nova, additional research showed potential to expand its audience through the schedule change.

Nova's move to 9 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays will allow for two to three hours of themed content that evening on science, exploration and natural history. This winter, Nova will run after Nova scienceNOW; in the spring, Secrets of the Dead will be in that 8 p.m. Eastern slot. Tuesdays will feature historical and cultural documentaries, which research shows has a significant audience overlap with Frontline, the memo says. Tuesdays bring the second season of Pioneers of Primetime (with first season repeats) this winter, with Henry Louis Gates' Blacks in Latin America in the spring. "Thereafter," the memo says, "PBS's schedule on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. is a development opportunity for new series," including a show in early planning stages through the CPB/PBS Diversity and Innovation Fund.

The Thursday night feed also will shift to allow a repeat of Antiques Roadshow at 8 p.m., and The This Old House Hour feed at 10 p.m.

Pop-outs include a sesquicentennial encore presentation of the Ken Burns blockbuster, The Civil War.

"The Nova move and other structural schedule changes this winter also sets the stage for further potential PBS primetime schedule changes to come in future seasons," the memo notes.