Dec 2, 2010

Interference could interfere with FCC aim to boost VHF signals

The Federal Communication Commission's plan to create space for more wireless devices on the spectrum includes tactics to improve the quality of TV signals in the VHF band weakened in the digital transition. One way to do that would be to increase the effective radiated power (ERP) of VHF stations in the FCC's heavily populated Zone 1 (the Northeast and Upper Midwest). But that could complicate life for stations including WNET/Thirteen in New York City, according to TVNewsCheck.

Broadcast consulting engineer Charles Cooper said the power boost would create problems with interference, particularly in the Northeast. Cooper said the high-V stations in New York City (WABC, WNET and WPIX) are now operating with ERPs of 12 kW or less. Under the FCC proposal, they could boost power to 50 kW. "The stations would have to seek interference agreements with other stations," Cooper said, "and most likely, these agreements could involve daisy chains involving multiple stations and perhaps those other stations having an issue with even other stations.”

Full deficit panel to vote Friday on recommended cuts, which could include CPB

The final co-chairs' report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform awaits a full-panel vote Friday (Dec. 3). Although CPB was recommended for elimination in the co-chairs' draft of "$200 billion in illustrative savings," the corporation was not specifically mentioned in the final report released Dec. 1. But that doesn't necessarily mean that public broadcasting is safe. The final report refers to using that "$200 billion in illustrative 2015 savings" as a starting point for cuts. Meanwhile, two more commissioners have signaled they will vote for the plan; that means nine members have announced their support and one said he is likely to back the proposal. Fourteen of the 18 commissioners must approve the plan for it to continue on to the Senate.

Hiring spree at Fox News is "a way to play the culture wars"

Former NPR reporter and analyst Juan Williams is neither the first nor last news personality to land a lucrative gig at Fox News after being dismissed for politically incorrect remarks that offended liberals, reports Paul Farhi of the Washington Post. Andrew Tyndall of the Tyndall Report covering TV news, tells Farhi that Fox News chief Roger Ailes is being "opportunistic" with a string of recent hires, including Williams, former CNN host Lou Dobbs and local TV news veteran Doug McKelway, who was fired this summer by Washington's WJLA for "gross insubordination and misconduct."

"It's a way to play the culture wars," Tyndall says of Ailes's hiring spree, and jokes that Fox may be turning into "the safety-net network. If you say something outrageous, there's still a paycheck waiting for you."

Two ITVS films make it to Sundance; Elmo, too

The Sundance Institute on Wednesday (Dec. 1) revealed the lineup of competition for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January. Two ITVS-funded docs are on the list: "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation," profiling a radical environmental group, in the U.S. Documentary competition; and "Family Portrait in Black and White," in the World Cinema Documentary competition, an examination of interracial individuals and relationships in Eastern Europe. Other entries include "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey," which follows Kevin Clash, the man behind the iconic character. A Sesame Workshop spokesperson said it did not fund the project but provided access to Clash for the filmmaker. A full list of films in the festival is here.

UPDATE: Two additional ITVS-funded films will premiere at the festival, Jan. 20-30 in Park City, Utah: "Granito," looking at Guatemala's efforts to heal after decades of turmoil; and "The Interrupters," following several former gang members now working to protect the communities they once terrorized.

Radiolab, poised "right at the edge of what science can tell you"

"This show is a conversation between science and mystery," says Jad Abumrad, host and producer of Radiolab, in a New York Observer feature about the WNYC series. "You're right at the edge of what the science can tell you. Which to me is as much about, like, magical thinking and weirdness and poetry as the science itself."

BONUS for Radiolab fans: Abumrad was a featured speaker at 2010 MaxFunCon, organized by Jesse Thorne of PRI's The Sound of Young America. You can watch a video stream or download audio of his presentation here.