Aug 5, 2011

Broadcasters still waiting on FCC spectrum model

Until the Federal Communications Commission releases its Allotment Optimization Model (AOM) for upcoming spectrum auctions, "broadcasters should remain skeptical — and wary — of the anything having to do with incentive auctions," writes broadcast media analyst Harry Jessell of  TVNewsCheck."Broadcasters have been eager to get their hands on the model so that they can test (and possibly question) some of its assumptions and simply see how they would do under various scenarios," Jessell writes. "But the FCC won't give anybody a peek. It won't let broadcasters or the public see what it is seeing when it runs the numbers."

In its original National Broadband Plan in March 2010, the FCC said modeling would be "forthcoming."

Jessell reports that FCC Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said at the National Association of Broadcasters meeting in April that the modeling should be released in the "next few months."

"Well, by my calendar, a few months have come and gone," Jessell writes. "You ask the FCC now about when the modeling might be forthcoming and you don't even get an answer."

FCC okays sale of WDUQ-FM to Essential Public Media

The Federal Communications Commission has approved the sale of WDUQ-FM (90.5), which allows the license to be transferred from Duquesne University to Essential Public Media, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In its ruling Thursday (Aug. 3), the FCC acknowledged objections to the deal, many concerning the format change from jazz to news. "Although the commission recognizes that WDUQ's program has attracted a devoted listenership," it said, "it is well-settled policy that the commission does not scrutinize or regulate programming, nor does it take potential changes in programming formats into consideration in reviewing assignment applications." The sale is expected to be completed within the next 30 days. The station's new call letters also may be announced during that time.

PEG channels could extend their mission via low-power FM, advocate says

One of the sessions at last week's Alliance for Community Media conference in Tucson explored collaboration opportunities between low-power FM (LPFM) providers and Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access channels. Workshop leader Erik Möllberg, assistant manager at Access Fort Wayne, said LPFM offers PEG providers an opportunity to extend their mission by reaching people who otherwise do not have a voice, reports the Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age blog from the New America Foundation. LPFM has been “a nice way of pulling in other sectors of society that were not using access television and that might work much better for them,” he said. And with the Federal Communications Commission is poised to open LPFM frequencies up to the public again (Current, July 25), it's a great time consider the partnerships, he said.

Kernis joins start-up team for NBC's primetime newsmag

Jay Kernis’s vacation from the TV news business lasted less than two weeks.The former NPR programming exec has joined an NBC News team that’s creating a new primetime newsmag hosted by Brian Williams for debut in October. As a piece producer on the as-yet-unnamed show, he’s working on a story with former CBS anchor Harry Smith, who ended his 25-year CBS career to work on NBC’s new broadcast.

Kernis played a key role in creating and updating NPR’s flagship programs in two separate stints in public radio. When he left NPR for CBS News in 1987, Smith was the first anchor he worked with, he told Current.

Kernis left his most recent TV job last month — as senior producer and blogger of CNN’s In the Arena, the Eliot Spitzer show that delivered its farewell broadcast last night. He planned to be a consultant and take time to consider his career options — possibly including a return to public radio — but NBC moved quickly to hire him for the new broadcast. Another CBS veteran, Rome Hartman, is e.p. of the new NBC show.

PBS SoCal boosts kids' programming weekdays, adds weekends

PBS SoCal, formerly KOCE-TV, is ramping up its kids offerings, reports the Los Angeles Times. The station, which took over as PBS primary in the Los Angeles market when KCET left the network in January, is expanding daily programming by 90 minutes and adding a children's block from 6 to 8 a.m. weekend mornings for the first time. The changes begin Monday (Aug. 8). Jamie Annunzio, the station’s director of education, said it's all part of “our commitment to increase and maintain quality and educational children’s content.”