Jul 24, 2012

Chief operating officer of Alabama PTV protests firings in letter to governor

In a letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama Public Television's chief operating officer says "a shadow is being cast over APT by its own directors," following their sudden terminations on June 12 of longtime Executive Director Allan Pizzato and his deputy, Pauline Howland (Current, June 25). The firings sparked an ongoing public controversy, and exposed an internal struggle over the commission's push to schedule programs from the religious right for APT broadcast and revise the network's mission statement.

Charles Grantham, who has been with the station since 1978, writes that several members of the governing Alabama Educational Television Commission "have their own agendas, which may or may not have been in the best interest of APT." He said one commissioner has suggested dropping PBS programming.

"On programming and other issues," Gratham states, "at times the commissioners did not want to hear the advice of the management team — a team made up of Pauline and Allan and myself, who just between us three have nearly one hundred years combined broadcasting experience."

He also notes: "Our commissioners have caused literally thousands of dollars in private support to be pulled from the organization. Each day more and more of the citizens of Alabama, along with businesses, are pulling their support based on the actions and perceived future actions of the AETC."

Grantham told Current that the station has lost at least $25,000 in membership funds, and several major donors — "$25,000 to $50,000 a year underwriters," he said — are holding off on finalizing those agreements due to the uncertainty over APT's direction following the firings.

Read the entire letter here.

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