Nov 19, 2011

Studio fire at PBS Hawaii causes $250,000 damage

PBS Hawaii was temporarily off the air after a studio fire Friday (Nov. 18) caused more than $250,000 damage, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reports. The fire department initially extinguished the blaze, caused by a burst lightbulb, but later returned when the blaze reignited. Power was restored early Saturday afternoon, the station said, and regular programming resumed on cable by 2 p.m. and over-the-air by 3 p.m. Some programming Monday could still be affected.

UPDATE, Nov. 21: The station is back on the air, but parts of the studio set will have to be replaced or re-built, according to KHON2 in Honolulu. Production of local programming remains on hold.

CPB thanks Oregon congressman, bestowing Lowell medal

CPB gave its top honor for individual service, the Ralph Lowell Award, to Rep. Earl Blumenauer, the bowtie-wearing, bike-riding Oregon Democrat who chaired and helped create the Public Broadcasting Caucus in Congress.

“Rep. Blumenauer is dedicated in his support of public media,” said CPB President Patricia Harrison in the announcement Nov. 18, timed for an evening ceremony in Washington, D.C. “He understands the value delivered to every American citizen through public service media, on air, online and in the community, and the important role that each public television and radio station – locally owned and operated – plays in strengthening our civil society.”

 “Not only do our public broadcasting stations provide us with valuable information, but they also directly support 21,000 jobs in hundreds of communities across America," the representative said, making a point seldom heard in recent years. "I am honored to receive this award and will continue to fight for the future of this treasured institution in American media.”

The Portland resident served in the state legislature 1972-78, was elected to terms in local government 1978-96, and served in Congress since then. He is now a member of the House committees overseeing taxes and the federal budget.

"Bad news piling up" for KCET, Los Angeles Times says

Despite its recent announcement of a five-show, $50 million production deal, KCET in Los Angeles continues to struggle as the nation's largest indie pubTV station, reports the Los Angeles Times. Viewership is down, and the station now averages just 20,000 tune-ins a night during primetime, it said. Also, "no question, going independent has affected viewer support," said Gordon Bava, KCET board member, referring to the station's departure from PBS in January (Current, Oct. 18, 2010). "Corporate support is down, but to some extent, that is a function of the lack of local programming." The newspaper said a KCET spokesperson confirmed that individual membership is down but gifts from major donors are up. KCET received $44.6 million in total support and revenue for fiscal year 2010, down 26 percent from FY09, according to audited financial statements. During that time the station had $53.8 million in expenses including programming and administrative costs.