Aug 22, 2011

Moyers returning to public television in January with weekly show

Starting in January, veteran newsman Bill Moyers will provide a fully funded, hourlong weekly program — Moyers & Company — to public television stations.

"There will be a diversity of voices," Moyers told stations in a letter today (Aug. 22), "one-on-one interviews with lively minds rich in experience and insight, as well as an exchange of views among people who may disagree on politics, governance, faith, religion and the state of democracy, but who nonetheless agree on the importance of a civil dialogue about their differences."

The aim, he said, is to offer viewers "some different news, some new voices and fresh thinking, and an occasional cultural grace note." American Public Television will distribute the series and New York's WNET, Moyers' longtime home base, will be the presenting station.

Content will be distributed across platforms to better reach new audiences. Stations also will receive customized promos, tools for local underwriting, and streaming content for websites.

Moyers was in talks in April with PBS for distribution of a series, which PBS ultimately declined. Network President Paula Kerger told Current in May, "He needed us to guarantee that we could give him another common carriage position on Friday night, and we can't quite do that yet." She added, "I certainly want Bill Moyers on public broadcasting, for sure."

Moyers said he will provide details in November at the American Public Television Fall Marketplace in Memphis, where he will deliver the keynote address.

Genachowski won't release spectrum model until Congress okays auction

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says the agency will not release its Allotment Optimization Model (AOM) detailing how it will reconfigure broadcast spectrum after an incentive auction until after it gets that auction authority from Congress, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The statement came in response to a request from Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) that reflects the growing call in the broadcast industry to release the model to the public. Dingell called Genachowski's response "deeply troubling." He also said he would oppose any legislation that did not explicitly protect broadcasters.

The "Life on Earth" guy gets a life award for his work

Sir David Attenborough, the 85-year-old naturalist and BBC star who created Life on Earth, The Life of Birds and other nature docs on PBS and other channels will receive the International Honour of Excellence at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) Sept. 11. Sir David’s latest production — Flying Monsters 3D, a 3D IMAX film about flying dinosaurs — won a British Academy Award in May and is playing in IMAX theaters in Europe and at the Science Spectrum Museum, Lubbock, Texas. This year's IBC will be held Sept. 8-13 in Amsterdam.

Civil discourse essential to democracy, documentarian Ken Burns says

PBS filmmaker Ken Burns will call for a nationwide discourse on civility at a National Press Club Speakers Series luncheon on Oct. 3. "This year as we think about the 150th anniversary of the start of our Civil War, we must remember that the lack of civility in our political language threatens the very basis of American society," Burns said in a press release. "I believe civility is essential to our ability as a nation to confront together difficult issues even when we may disagree." Burns wants to use his upcoming documentary, Prohibition, as a starting point for discussion, as he sees it as "one of America's most notorious civic failures" that serves as "an object lesson in the challenge of legislating human behavior," with relevance to today's political discourse.

Iowa City's PEG channel joins nationwide fight to keep public access funding

Iowa City's public access channel, PATV Channel 18, has joined the Alliance for Community Media to gain support of Iowa lawmakers for the Community Access Preservation Act, which would restore funding to local stations and prevent operators from discriminating against the channels, PATV executive director Josh Goding tells the Iowa City Press-Citizen. "The history of public, educational and government channels is vague to many people, but these channels are critical because they produce more original local media than all the big networks combined," Goding said. "The funding structure that grew up around PEGs in the 1980s is now being undermined by profit motive. Big telecoms are dumping millions into state legislatures to buy their way out of their obligations to our cities and our community channels."

Goding said stations nationwide are at risk of losing funding. "The hundreds of PEG stations struggling to stay viable across the country since 1978 have always been the true sources of free speech, diverse local programs (and) citizen journalism," Goding said. "We're trying to stay here."