Oct 27, 2011

Washington Post exec Bo Jones to take helm of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions

MacNeil/Lehrer Productions has hired a new president and c.e.o., Boisfeuillet "Bo" Jones Jr., who has spent the last 32 years in executive positions at the Washington Post Co. "It is a happy day for us in public broadcasting," said Robert MacNeil in a statement. "We welcome a man of such rich experience in journalism management to help us keep MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and PBS NewsHour vital into the future."

"Bo Jones is the ideal person to take us where we must go," said Jim Lehrer, who stepped down from the anchor chair in June. "He has a unique combination of journalistic integrity and business acumen, plus he understands Americans' increasing demand for serious journalism about the issues and events that matter." 

Jones is currently vice chairman of the Washington Post Co. and chairman of the Washington Post newspaper. Over the years he has served as vice president and counsel, president and general manager, and publisher and c.e.o. As president of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, Jones will head corporate and foundation funding for the multiplatform show, coordinate relationships with pubTV broadcast and distribution entities, and oversee development of documentary programs and projects.

"Like millions of others, I am a huge fan of the NewsHour," Jones said. He starts Jan. 1, 2012. (Image: MacNeil/Lehrer Productions)

Congressional Research report details challenges facing PEG channels

Public, educational and government (PEG) channels are facing numerous financial, policy and technological obstacles, according to a new Congressional Research Service report. "The study lays out what we have been saying all along," said John Rocco, president of American Community Television (ACT), tells Broadcasting & Cable. "PEG access television has been under attack and is in desperate need of a Congressional fix."

The report also references the Community Access Preservation Act (CAP Act, HR 1746), backed by ACT and introduced by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). The bill, opposed by cable operators, would allow jurisdictions to require cable companies to provide at least 2 percent of gross cable revenues in PEG support and would prevent charging subscribers for digital to receive PEG channels migrated from analog tiers.

Kerger in Singapore: Content, innovation, sustainability

PBS President Paula Kerger gave the keynote address Thursday (Oct. 27) at the Public Broadcasting International meeting, going on this week in Singapore. Kerger told the audience that she recently read the book Great by Choice, by Jim Collins, which examines why some companies thrive in uncertain times and others simply get by. "His findings were surprising, but absolutely relevant to all of us in this room," she told the representatives from 20 noncommercial broadcast entities.

Collins found "that the best leaders did not take more risks or have grander ambitions," Kerger said. "Instead, the companies that succeeded were led by people who were more disciplined, more empirical, and more paranoid. And the companies that succeeded did not adapt more dramatically to their new circumstances. In fact, they changed less in reaction to a radically changing world than their cohorts because they built on their areas of expertise. That’s why I feel confident that by focusing on content, innovation and sustainability we can re-create public media for the digital age."

Milwaukee and Seattle lose longtime public broadcasters

Two pubcasting deaths of note:

Art Langlas, "Mr. Auction" both behind and in front of the camera for Milwaukee Public Television Friends, died Wednesday (Oct. 26) of complications after surgery. He was 65. As auction director, Langlas raised $1 million a year over the past decade for the Wisconsin station. "He was the face of the auction," said Mike McKenzie, who now oversees the annual weeklong fundraiser. "When he was out in public and someone recognized him, he really got a kick out of that." Ellis Bromberg, MPTV general manager, noted that the Great Channel 10 Auction "is still an event in southeastern Wisconsin, and it is an event because of him." MPTV says it's the top auction on PBS in the nation, based on net revenue.

Terry Denbrook, a longtime public broadcasting engineer in Seattle, died Sunday (Oct. 23) after a long battle with cancer. He was 66. He was chief engineer at KUOW-FM, Puget Sound Public Radio, for 35 years, beginning in 1976, and also spent five years at KPLU. “Over this time he helped guide KUOW into the 21st century,” the station said in a statement, “by pioneering HD radio multicast services and expanding its reach throughout western Washington. Terry’s engineering expertise did not stop at KUOW, as he often helped out those stations in need.”A comment on Denbrook’s passing on Seattle’s Society of Broadcast Engineers page reads, “Just looked at your transmitters, old friend. They continue to percolate. You will be missed.”