Oct 4, 2011

"To the Contrary" host Erbé delays return to show

Bonnie Erbé, founder and host of To the Contrary, has had a slight setback that will delay her return to the show. Erbé took a serious spill from her horse Stand Out in a show over Memorial Day weekend (see story in the Oct. 3 issue of Current) and, after months of rehab, had hoped to be back in the host's chair this Friday (Oct. 7). But now she's adjusting that date a bit and is aiming to return to the air in the next two weeks. Guest hosts including Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala have been filling in.

When Erbé injured two cervical vertebrae in the accident on May 29, her doctor gave her a 50-50 chance of walking again. Her physical therapist said regaining her mobility would take six months or more, but she was up and walking within five weeks.

She's been working in the show's Washington, D.C., office for a couple days a week for several weeks now.

Nov. 1 is premiere date for PBS U.K. channel

The PBS U.K. channel will be available to viewers across the pond starting Nov. 1, Bloomberg Businessweek is reporting. The pubTV network's first international channel, bankrolled by a Canadian entrepreneur (Current, Aug. 8, 2011), will open with an episode of Nova. The biz magazine says the PBS U.K. office in East London has four full-time employees and a dozen freelancers, and "that number may grow as the channel’s distribution and viewers expand."

While PBS has sold programs to U.K. programmers through its distribution arm, which is also helping manage the new venture, some channels have become more reluctant to use its content and what does appear isn’t clearly branded as a PBS show, said Richard Kingsbury, general manager of PBS U.K. "A lot of networks don’t like to take programs from others. The BBC used to pick up quite a lot, but I guess they’re under pressure not to acquire.”

Amy Goodman, two producers, receive settlement over 2008 arrests

Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, and two of the show's producers will get $100,000 in a settlement over their arrests during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, the Associated Press reports. The agreement was reached Friday (Sept. 30) in Minnesota. The cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis agreed to pay $90,000 and the federal government will pay $10,000. The lawsuit named the federal government because a Secret Service agent confiscated the press credentials of three journalists.

Goodman and producers Nicole Salazaar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous were among an estimated 40 to 50 journalists arrested while covering street protests outside the convention (Current, Sept. 15, 2008). Authorities ultimately dropped all charges against the arrested journalists.

Goodman is currently in New York City covering protests on Wall Street. She said the settlement money will go to "support independent, unfettered" journalism. "Dissent is what will save our country," she said. "Dissent is what our country was founded on. It's our job to find a place for those voices."

Here's the press release on the settlement from Democracy Now!

City Council backs Lakeland Public TV's state bond request for new facility

Lakeland Public Television in Bemidji, Minn., is seeking $3 million in state bonds for construction of a new facility, and it has the City Council's unanimous support, according to The Bemidji Pioneer. In fact, members of the council agreed that the project should be a top priority. Lakeland plans to build a $4 million facility, with $1 million in local donations. The station has been located at Bemidji State University since it went on the air in 1980.

Salt Lake's KCPW doubles its pledge goal to keep station on the air

Salt Lake City pubradio station KCPW 88.3 is facing an Oct. 31 deadline to raise $250,000 to pay off one of two loans it took out in 2008 to purchase the station, reports the local City Weekly. If the station misses the deadline, the loan goes into default and the bank will accelerate the second loan, worth $1.8 million. “That will effectively put us out of business,” KCPW General Manager Ed Sweeney told the alt weekly. “We’ve never been in default on the loan, and we’ve been able to reduce the principle amount by $100,000 since 2008. There’s no way I can come up with $1.8 million.” Its current pledge drive began Sept. 28 and ends Thursday (Oct. 6). KCPW generally sets a goal for each of its twice-a-year fundraisers of about $200,000; this time, it's aiming for $450,000.

UPDATE: Sweeney tells Current that as of Tuesday morning (Oct. 4), "we are hanging in there," with just over one-third of the goal raised. "We go until Friday with the on-air portion, take a couple of days to rest and start all over again with eblasts, letters and possibly another on-air drive at the end of October," Sweeney says.

KCET's Huell Howser donates all "California Gold" episodes to university library

California TV personality Huell Howser, who has been with KCET in Los Angeles since 1987, is donating all past and future episodes of his show California's Gold to Chapman University in Orange, Calif. He's also giving the university some 300 boxes of materials related to the series including papers, ephemera and memorabilia, as well as around 1,800 books about California. The trove will be housed in the university's Leatherby Libraries, and all episodes of the pubTV show will be digitized and made available online.

"I'm so proud to have a permanent home for my life's work at a university the caliber of Chapman, and I hope it will be used by students and the public to learn about and understand California even better," Howser said. "The idea of getting all the shows posted on the web so that everyone — not just students — can always access them for free is very appealing to me."

Unique all-Native American channel launches in California, plans to go national next year

FNX, the first 24-hour Native American television channel, is now on the air. First Nations Experience Television is a partnership between the San Manuel Band of Indians and KVCR, a dual licensee in San Bernardino, Calif. The FNX website says that within the next year, FNX plans to "expand and lead the way as a U.S. producer and national and global exhibitor (via the Internet and over-the air, satellite and cable broadcast systems) of authentic First Nations storytelling."

"This marks the birth of an innovative project that has been in the works for seven years now," said Larry Ciecalone, president of KVCR/FNX. The channel will be available nationally next year.

KVCR received a $6 million donation from the San Manuel Band in July 2010 for the channel.

"Prohibition" premiere scores 2.6 in overnights

Prohibition, the latest historical documentary from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, scored a 2.6 rating among 55 metered overnight stations for its premiere episode, “A Nation of Drunkards,” on Sunday night (Oct. 2). PBS said in a statement that's 189 percent above the PBS overnight primetime average for the 2010-2011 season of 0.9.