Jan 27, 2012

Idaho PTV faces "loss of service" in wake of capital funding cut

Idaho Public Television needs funding for capital equipment purchases, General Manager Peter Morrill told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee of the state legislature Friday (Jan. 27). The network has not received its usual state appropriation for equipment for the past three years, reports the Spokesman-Review, and is asking for $1.5 million. “Our operating model is not sustainable with current capital funding levels,” Morrill told members. “Continued deferral of equipment repairs and maintenance will lead to loss of service.” The governor's budget recommendation for IPTV for next year calls for a 0.5 percent increase in general funds.

For much more on the loss of capital equipment funding across the system, see the Jan. 30 issue of Current.

Is "Downton" creating online pirates?

Obsessive Downton Abbey fans are turning into programming pirates, reports Salon, poking around in what it calls "some dark corner of the Internet" to find episodes that have already run on Britain's ITV but not yet on Masterpiece. When the writer of the piece, John Sellers, confessed to Downton actor Hugh Bonneville (the Earl of Grantham) that he'd watched the Downton Christmas special online, Bonneville replied: “I wish you hadn’t told me you watched it illegally. That’s really pissing me off. Shame on you. Be ashamed.” PBS viewers are still awaiting that episode, which is set to air in February.

Sellers spoke to Rebecca Eaton, Masterpiece e.p., about the delay between the original airing overseas and when Downton hits PBS. “ITV is a commercial station, they have ads, and their shows have to be reformatted to fit the Masterpiece time slots,” she said. “And Masterpiece, every year, has to avoid certain weeks because of pledge. It’s a puzzle of where to fit programs in here.” She does hope that turnaround time may be shortened, but predicted that fans would still complain about not being able to watch episodes the same time as the Brits. “If they aired a day later,” she said, “illegal pirating would be going on.”

W.V. pubcaster cutting programming due to budget squeeze, director tells lawmakers

Dennis Adkins, West Virginia Public Broadcasting executive director, told state legislators that state funding reductions and loss of corporate underwriting have forced the station to make programming cuts, reports the Charleston Gazette. Speaking to lawmakers on Thursday (Jan. 26), Adkins said further program cutbacks may be necessary. "We're seeing erosion in our ability to provide a quality public broadcasting product to the citizens of West Virginia," Adkins told members of the House Finance Committee. "To put it bluntly, our expenses are outpacing our revenues." State appropriations to pubcasting in West Virginia have dropped 9 percent over the past two fiscal years, and corporate underwriting is off 17 percent in the last year. The public affairs TV show This Week in West Virginia is now on hiatus. If the situation doesn't improve, Adkins told lawmakers, national programming on public TV and radio could be affected, and utility costs may force some translators to be shut down.

KPCC places billboard next door to rival KPFK

Has KPCC "punked" fellow pubradio station KPFK with a "billboard prank"? So says an item on OC Weekly's Navelgazing blog written by Gustavo Arellano, a reporter for the paper who has also appeared on both stations in southern California. KPCC, an NPR member station, has erected a bold orange billboard on the the roof of building right next door to KPFK, a Pacifica outlet, that reads: "Ideas, not ideology." Perhaps a poke at left-leaning Pacifica?

UPDATE: Craig Curtis, program director at KPCC radio, tells Current that the placement was a "complete coincidence — although I'm sure people may not believe that." Locations are rarely specified in billboard buys, Curtis said, and KPCC's sign just landed there. He happened to be exchanging emails with KPFK General Manager Bernard Duncan when Curtis heard about the billboard, so he told Duncan, whose only reaction was, "Hmmm." Curtis quipped, "Maybe we'll put a KPFK billboard on the side of our building."

PBMA rebrands as Public Media Business Association, launches new website

The Public Broadcasting Management Association (PBMA) on Thursday (Jan. 26) announced a full rebranding of the organization, which serves financial, human resources, legal, information systems and administrative managers of public TV and radio stations.

It's slightly twisting the current PBMA acronym into PMBA: the Public Media Business Association, positioning itself as the "go-to" association "focused on delivering programs and services that enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and economics of public media," the McLean, Va.-based group said in a press release.

“The county’s need for public media is greater than ever, but public media stations face severe economic and funding challenges," said PMBA Board Chair Tom Livingston. "It is critical that stations become as efficient as possible in how we manage our businesses and human resources. The new PMBA is now more effectively positioned to serve the business needs of public media.” The organization, previously managed by the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), switched to Coulter Nonprofit Management last year, requesting a full strategic review of the former PBMA’s market objectives, market position, brand identity, and programs.

A new website reflects the changes; new PMBA social media pages on Facebook and Twitter are accessible through that portal.

The group was founded in 1979 as the Public Telecommunications Financial Management Association, with an original membership of station financial professionals. Its annual conference takes place this year May 29 to June 1 in Las Vegas.