Nov 16, 2010

CPB Board resolution cites its "deep concerns" regarding NPR firing of Juan Williams

CPB's Board of Directors at its meeting today (Nov. 16) in New Orleans approved a resolution expressing its "deep concerns about the consequences of NPR's decisions" in the handling of correspondent Juan Williams' dismissal — a termination that is now undergoing an external review. It says that the public television and radio systems are "highly interdependent," which means the "actions of one public media stakeholder can affect the welfare of the others and the public media system as a whole." The resolution states that public reaction has been "highly critical." And it concludes that the consequences of NPR's actions are "renewed challenges to public media's journalistic integrity, Congressional attempts to reduce or eliminate funding for public media, and the impact such reductions will have on public media's future programming and services."

CPB Board chooses Ramer as chair, Pryor as vice-chair

At its meeting in New Orleans today (Nov. 16), the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting elected Bruce Ramer (left) as its new chairman, and David Pryor as vice-chairman.

Ramer is an attorney and partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer and Brown in Beverly Hills, Calif., specializing in entertainment and media. He has been active in public television for nearly 20 years, joining the board of KCET in Los Angeles in 1992 and serving as its chair from 2001 to 2003. He was appointed to the CPB board by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate in October 2008.

Pryor, who joined the board in November 2006, is a former U.S. Senator, Representative, and Arkansas governor. He served as dean of the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and was director of the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Institute of Politics at Harvard University.

Each will serve a one-year term. (Image: Current)

Gov. Barbour proposes end to state aid for Mississippi's MPB

Two-term Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour called for an end to state subsidies for Mississippi Public Broadcasting in a $5.5 billion fiscal 2012 spending proposal released yesterday.

Barbour, who acknowledged at his Nov. 15 news conference that he's considering a bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, vowed to close the state's $700 million deficit during his last year as governor, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

The budget proposal [PDF] reduces state spending an average of 8 percent, but targets MPB and the state's arts and library commissions with cuts of 20 percent. Barbour recommends that MPB take a $1.5 million hit in its state appropriation next year, reducing its state aid to just over $6 million.

In a letter to Mississippi lawmakers that accompanied his proposal, Barbour recommended an end to state aid to MPB altogether. "Mississippi taxpayers should not continue subsidizing a television and radio network, so I recommend a sharp reduction in the appropriation for Mississippi Public Broadcasting," he writes. "This decrease should begin a draw down in funding for MPB that will ultimately result in its operating entirely on private donations or revenues, except for educational programming used by and prepared by [the Mississippi Department of Education.]"

MPB received about $8.3 million in state aid in fiscal 2008 and has weathered successive cuts of 5 percent or less over the last several years. In July the state pubcaster was roiled by controversy when then-Executive Director Judith Lewis abruptly canceled Fresh Air, the NPR show produced by Philadelphia's WHYY. Lewis, who cited the "salaciousness" of host Terry Gross in taking the show off the air, later rescheduled the program at 9 p.m. Lewis, a longtime friend of Gov. Barbour, resigned from MPB in September.

FCC chair says current spectrum allocations "still reflect previous era"

"The world has changed, but our spectrum allocations still reflect the previous era," said Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski Monday (Nov. 15) in a speech to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Atlanta (full remarks here). He told the audience that by opening spectrum to commercial use in the 20th century, "we made it possible for entrepreneurs to create a large and successful over-the-air broadcast TV industry that in turn helped create our extraordinarily successful U.S. content industry, bringing real benefits to our economy and beyond."

"Fast forward to today," he said. "Less than ten percent of us — down from 100 percent — still get our television programming from over-the-air broadcast transmissions.  Instead, people watch TV through cable or satellite."

His appearance came on the same day that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration released its report setting mid-2013 as the target date to begin spectrum reallocation for wireless broadband. Genachowski issued a statement backing the NTIA's work.

Fey's remarks on conservative women edited from Twain show, paper reports

The Washington Post is reporting that PBS edited out controversial remarks made by Tina Fey (left) during her acceptance speech for the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize last Tuesday night (Nov. 9). Here's what didn't make it into the Sunday (Nov. 14) broadcast:

"And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women — except, of course, those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape 'kit 'n' stuff. But for everybody else, it's a win-win. Unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years — whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know — actually, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster."

Peter Kaminsky, one of the show's executive producers, said the the 90-minute program ran about 19 minutes long. "We took a lot out," he told the paper. "We snipped from everyone." (Image: PBS)