Apr 6, 2011

Schiller asked to resign even before NPR board saw entire sting video, she says

NPR's former President Vivian Schiller told an audience at the Paley Center For Media that she was forced to resign even before its board had watched the entire undercover sting video that prompted her departure on March 9. She was interviewed on Tuesday (April 5) by Pat Mitchell, former head of PBS.

"The timing was, the edited video hit at about ten o'clock," Schiller said. "They released the two-hour version, I think it was about two o'clock in the afternoon. We rushed to get a rush transcript. But even a rush transcript — it was two hours, it takes two hours, at a minimum. So we were just getting our hands on that long one. But then, anyway, the board met and the rest is history." 

Attention RSSers

Don't miss the provocative commentary on Current's home page, "Future obituary? Public television, 50, dies of apprehensive innocuity." It's by Kit Lukas, a producer and program executive at WNDT/WNET 1963-71, and former chair of the Department of Communications at the City College of New York. He continues to make docs and is writing a book on public TV.

WMFE overlap stations don't jump at possible primary status

Reverberations from the impending sale of primary PBS affiliate WMFE in Orlando, Fla., continue. Secondary stations WDSC at Daytona State College and WBCC in Cocoa, run by Brevard Community College, are taking a wait-and-see approach. WDSC officials said they are "too busy trying to keep their own station going to consider taking on more programming from WMFE," reports the News-Journal in Daytona Beach. A statement from WBCC-TV said it is "considering all options." A PBS spokesperson told the paper that the local stations, not PBS, will make the decision as to which will be primary.

Slate columnist sees PBS as the "hideous, ugly televised brother" of NPR

"Save NPR! But please, put PBS out of its misery." That's quite the provocative headline, and the Slate piece by columnist and author Mark Oppenheimer continues to rack up comments.

Oppenheimer said while PBS was a powerhouse early in its existence, "today, it can be difficult to find what ambitious, interesting programming there is on PBS. Earlier this month, I tuned in a few times and was greeted by Antiques Roadshow, a doo-wop concert that I have seen before while channel-surfing, and — several times — the financial advice of Suze Orman. From those glimpses, it seemed that an average evening on PBS had all the intelligence of VH1 and all the youth appeal of CBS."

APTS President Pat Butler counts at least 10 Senate Republicans supporting pubcasting

Patrick Butler, in his speech at the annual Capitol Hill day sponsored by the Association of Public Television stations this week, had some good news for the station leaders gathered in D.C. to lobby their legislators. "A very senior Republican in the House of Representatives has told me in recent weeks that the [Democratic Rep. Earl] Blumenauer amendment to continue funding public broadcasting would have passed the House — with significant Republican support — if it had been properly offered under the rules of debate on HR 1." The amendment was killed on a procedural vote just before midnight on Feb. 16 (Current, Feb. 22).

Also, "I count at least 10 Republicans in the United States Senate who will stand with us for continued funding of public broadcasting, and depending on the final package of budget proposals having nothing to do with us, there may be more," he noted.

Five staffers gone from WMFE-TV, eight more to follow

Five staffers were laid off on April 1 from WMFE-TV in Orlando, Fla., the same day it announced the station was sold to a Christian broadcaster, pending FCC approval. Around eight more positions also will be affected in the coming weeks, Lorri Shaban of TW2 public relations in Orlando told Current. She declined further details.

The station also had a two-week staff furlough and wage freeze in October 2010, and laid off 28 percent of its employees in February 2009.