Jul 13, 2011

PBS eliminating 21 positions, Kerger tells stations

PBS is eliminating 13 current staff positions and eight vacancies, PBS President Paula Kerger said in a letter to the system today (July 13)."This was not an easy decision to make, and we wish our departing staff the best as they pursue other opportunities," Kerger said. Six "new or restructured" positions also will be added, including two new vice presidents of general audience programming to support the ongoing revamp of PBS's primetime lineup. "Change can be difficult, but I remain convinced that by focusing on our larger goals, we will come out on the other end as a stronger organization prepared to support our mission and stations," Kerger said.

FCC approves rules proposal on low-power FM stations

The Federal Communications Commission is getting closer to creating new low-power FM stations and approving rebroadcasting programming from other stations, according to the Blog of the Legal Times. With a 4-0 vote Tuesday (July 12), the FCC "breaks a longstanding logjam on spectrum," said chairman Julius Genachowski. The problems have been ongoing since 2000, when Congress put low-power radio in urban areas on hold after commercial broadcasters complained about interference.

In Tuesday's Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF), the FCC approved lifting a freeze on processing translator applications and resuming licensing of translator stations in most smaller and rural markets. In urban markets, applicants must re-file. The commission also proposed moving ahead with applications for new low-power licenses within a year.

The Prometheus Radio Project, which advocates for low-power radio, praised the vote in a statement. “Today the FCC starts to redeem the promise made to thousands of community groups and national organizations that successfully fought to pass the Local Community Radio Act,” said Brandy Doyle, policy director at Prometheus. “The Act requires the FCC to ensure channels for low-power stations, and we believe a market-specific solution could accomplish that.”

Telluride's KOTO could begin accepting underwriting

KOTO, broadcasting to Telluride, Colo., and surrounding environs from its purple house on Pine Street, is really feeling a financial pinch — particularly because it's one of only six pubradio stations in the country that does not accept underwriting. Its news staff was recently pared to just one reporter, and its executive director got a salary cut; other pay and benefit reductions could follow. So the station soon will survey its members to ask if online or on-air underwriting would be acceptable, reports the Telluride Daily Planet. KOTO's support from CPB has dwindled from $170,000 three years ago to less than $92,000 this year. That makes its traditional summer fundraising efforts — "special events such as the potato black bean sauté," the paper says — more important than ever. "We’re constantly working on our events, thinking of new ones and trying to make the old ones work,” said Steve Kennedy, executive director.

Attention RSSers

Don't miss Current's story on the fourth station to drop PBS membership this year, WIPR-TV in Puerto Rico. It's a production powerhouse, creating seven hours of content each day, plus the only public TV station with its own 24/7 news channel. The station spent a year in negotiations with PBS, a WIPR exec said, over its $713,000 dues and lack of access to children's programming in Spanish.

Ramer makes Hollywood Reporter's Power Lawyers list

Bruce Ramer, board chairman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has been selected by the Hollywood Reporter as one of its Power Lawyers for 2011. Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown "is one of Hollywood's top talent boutiques," the paper says, and Ramer's longtime clients include Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood.