Nov 8, 2010

Pittsburgh's WQED finally marries off its sister station

After trying for years, WQED Multimedia is succeeding in selling its second TV channel, WQEX, the Post-Gazette reported today. Ion Media Networks will buy it for $3 million, the newspaper said. The buyer, which will now have stations in 60 markets, was selected by the WQED Board from "an extensive list of interested parties," WQED said. Since 2004, the unreserved UHF channel had been leased to Home Shopping Network and then ShopNBC as an outlet for shopping channels; WQED retained three hours a week for the FCC-required children's programming. But WQED's attempts to sell the channel were thwarted repeatedly by economic conditions, an unwilling FCC and other factors. In fiscal year 2009, WQED stayed out of the red by divesting another longtime asset, its 40-year-old offspring, Pittsburgh Magazine, netting more than $800,000. For fiscal 2010, the licensee again managed to show a net surplus — for the 11th straight year. President George L. Miles Jr. retired in September, 16 years after coming to the station to pull it out of an earlier fiscal crisis.

Where in the world is Red Green? Alaska!

Even in far-flung Fairbanks, Alaska, Red Green pulls in the fans. Nearly 200 lined up Sunday (Nov. 7) at Big Ray’s outfitters store for the chance to greet the popular pubcasting character, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Green, portrayed by actor and writer Steve Smith, continues nationwide on what may be his farewell tour, "Wit and Wisdom 2010." The Fairbanks newspaper noted that Smith "arrived at Big Ray’s in a septic truck, dubbed the Red Green Limousine, which was provided by Glacier Point Pumping and Thawing." If you haven't had a chance to greet Green in person, you can always join the nearly 340,000 fans of his Facebook page.

NPR's Schiller: "We take these calls for defunding very, very seriously"

Today's top story in the Daily Caller, the news website founded by former conservative TV pundit and PBS host Tucker Carlson, is headlined "Feeling the Heat." It reports on NPR President Vivian Schiller's remarks yesterday at a forum on the future of journalism, convened at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House. Acknowledging that the new Republican House majority may make good its campaign season threats to "defund NPR," Schiller explained that NPR receives very little of the federal aid distributed by CPB. “For small stations, and even for large stations, that’s a big chunk of their revenue,” she said, according to the Daily Caller's account. “It’s been a critical part of keeping those stations vibrant and, so, we take these calls for defunding very, very seriously.” Audience members questioned Schiller about NPR's firing of news analyst Juan Williams, the controversial decision that prompted Fox News host Bill O'Reilly to call for an end to federal support for the field. "We have admitted, I have admitted that there were certain aspects of it that we did not handle very well. In fact, there were certain aspects of this we handled badly.” Schiller reportedly went on to criticize the partisan nature of cable news and praise the NPR audience as more intelligent than that of other media outlets.

New APTS president: Patrick Butler

The Board of Trustees for the Association of Public Television Stations on Sunday (Nov. 7) approved its search committee's selection of board member Patrick Butler, chairman of the Maryland Public Television Foundation, as APTS president and chief executive officer. Butler formerly was a speechwriter for President Gerald R. Ford, and a special assistant to Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R, Tenn.). He served on the National Council on the the Humanities during the Reagan administration. He chaired the public programs committee of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and recommended funding for projects including Ken Burns’s The Civil War.

Butler retired as senior vice president of the Washington Post Company in December 2008, where for 18 years he had managed public policy, new business development and special corporate projects.

He had earlier served as Washington vice president of Times Mirror, the corporate parent of the Los Angeles Times, and as government relations vice president of RCA, which owned NBC.

Butler takes the helm on Jan. 1, replacing Larry Sidman, who departed April 1 after 14 months in the position (Current, March 14, 2010).

Correction on APTS appointment

This morning's post regarding recently retired PBS Senior Vice President Pat Hunter's appointment as the new APTS president was incorrect. Current is removing the post, and regrets the error.