May 26, 2011

Two Florida schools strike deal to bring PBS to Orlando via new station, WUCF-PBS

The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees today (May 26) gave its approval to become the PBS licensee for Orlando, the Orlando Business Journal is reporting. WUCF-PBS will launch when current affiliate WMFE-TV stops broadcasting July 1, following its sale to religious broadcaster Daystar. The deal includes a one-time, $1 million cash infusion to the station for HD. Both UCF and BCC already operate their own TV stations and would create content for the channel. UCF will commit $380,000 a year in personnel to the station.

Florida governor eliminates public radio and television funding

Florida public broadcasters are reeling after Republican Gov. Rick Scott vetoed all public radio and television Community Service Grants today (May 26). That's a loss of nearly $4.8 million in the next fiscal year, WMNF in Tampa reports. The governor kept funding for the Florida Channel, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the legislative sessions and Supreme Court hearings, Janyth Righter, executive director of Florida Public Broadcasting Service, tells Current. "Elimination of state funding will inevitably lead to the loss of programs, services, and jobs in communities across Florida," the pubcasting group said in a statement, adding that "supporters of local public broadcasting stations across the state are deeply dismayed" at the governor's decision.

WMFE Board hears opposition to sale

Eight persons showed up at a WMFE Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday night (May 25) to voice concerns about sale of the PBS affiliate's license to religious broadcaster Daystar. One was former Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson. “People spoke out against the sale,” Grayson told the Orlando Sentinel in an email. “I told them that they should ask for an FCC hearing on the transfer, and they should solicit competing offers from local groups that want to continue public broadcasting.” Station President Jose Fajardo also told the paper that proceeds from the $3 million sale "will help pay for any money that will need to be reimbursed to state or federal agencies.”

KCET raises more than $70,000 for Japanese disaster relief

KCET in Los Angeles raised $70,495 during its May 24 live televised benefit for Japan, 100 percent of which will go to relief efforts in the regions most affected by the earthquake and tsunami disasters, the station says. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a special appearance during the three-hour primetime show, which will be rebroadcast locally from 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday. KCET is working with U.S.-Japan Council to disburse funds to NGOs in Japan. Above, from left, KTLA’s Frank Buckley and actress Lily Mariye with Villaraigosa, L.A. Deputy Police Chief Terry Hara, actor George Takei, and U.S.-Japan Council’s Bryan Takeda during the telethon. (Image: KCET)

Sale closes on Palm Beach's WXEL-FM

Florida's WXEL-FM, the public radio station that broadcast on 90.7 FM in Palm Beach, has been converted into full-time music outlet WPBI, owned and operated by American Public Media's Classical South Florida.

The FCC approved the $3.85 million license transfer agreement last week, overruling objections from local groups who sought to prevent longtime owner Barry University from splitting the NPR news/classical music station from its public TV sibling. Sale opponents, including the WXEL Community Advisory Board, lobbied unsuccessfully to retain local control of both stations.

“This is an exciting day for public radio listeners across South Florida,” said Doug Evans, Classical South Florida president, in a news release announcing that the sale had closed. “We’re excited about the opportunity to serve the Palm Beaches and the Treasure Coast with high-quality public radio programming, and to strengthen the reach and quality of public radio throughout South Florida.

Under the sales contract, Classical South Florida has a one-year lease on the Boynton Beach studio facilities that housed both WXEL stations; the WXEL radio staff of seven full-time and four-part-time employees now work for new owner, the Palm Beach Post reports.

The future of WXEL-TV, which Barry University has been trying to sell since 2004, is unclear.

"NBR" to air on SiriusXM radio each weeknight

The Nightly Business Report will be broadcast by SiriusXM nationally five nights per week starting May 30, the Miami Herald is reporting today (May 26). SiriusXM will air the personal investment program at 7 p.m. Eastern weeknights on SiriusXM Public Radio (XM channel 121 and Sirius channel 205 with Sirius Premier), and again at 10 p.m.

“This is a big first step toward the goal we’ve set for ourselves, which is to build a global distribution for NBR on both television and radio,” Mykalai Kontilai, the former educational video businessman who acquired the show with partner Gary Ferrell from WPBT/PBS 2 nine months ago (Current, Aug. 23, 2010), told the paper. “For the first time, people will be able to tune into the show on radio.”