Apr 28, 2012

Latest Public Media Futures forum, from Los Angeles, to be posted online

The challenges and importance of local pubmedia TV production — from East Harlem to San Diego — was the topic of the latest Public Media Futures forum, on Saturday (April 28), sponsored by USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and American University's School of Communication. Presentations at KUSC in Los Angeles included an update on KCET's local initiatives since its independence from PBS in 2010, from Al Jerome, president of the L.A. station; an inside look at how KPBS in San Diego is raising support for its robust multiplatform news-gathering operation; and an overview of the strength of local programming at Nashville Public Television from TRAC Media's David LeRoy. The webcast of the meeting, which included a wide-ranging discussion among a diverse assortment of pubmedia stakeholders in the room and questions from online participants, will be archived the week of April 30 at this link, on the website of Annenberg's Center on Communication Leadership & Policy. See coverage in the May 14 issue of Current; read Tweets posted from the forum at #pubmediafutures.

FCC okays framework for channel-sharing after spectrum auction

The FCC on Friday (April 27) unanimously adopted the basic regulatory framework for broadcast channel-sharing after the auction to free up bandwidth for mobile devices, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Any channel sharing will be voluntary and flexible; stations may decide how to divide a shared 6-MHz channel, as long as each delivers at least one standard-definition digital primary channel. Each primary channel will be subject to all FCC obligations and must-carry rights.

Under spectrum auction legislation approved earlier this year, a broadcaster may opt to give up entirely its license to broadcast on a TV channel of 6 MHz, keep only part of its 6-MHz channel and share the rest with another station, or swap its UHF channel for a VHF channel (Current, Feb. 28).

'Permanent beta' a new programming approach for NPR

NPR lately has been using a more nimble and less expensive way of developing content — a kind of "permanent beta" — notes Nieman Journalism Lab. New offerings such as TED Radio Hour, Ask Me Another and Cabinet of Wonders are relatively inexpensive live shows or adaptations of existing titles, and run as pilot projects.

That's different from, say, Bryant Park Project, launched five years ago on a budget of $2 million after extended online piloting (Current, Sept. 24, 2007); that died within a year (Current, July 28, 2008).

“Historically," Eric Nuzum, NPR’s v.p. of programming, told Nieman, "the way that NPR and others in public radio have produced big programming is we come up with an idea we think is really good, we hire a staff, we keep all this very cloak-and-dagger secret, and then we try to make a big launch with it, and we end up with 30 stations and then over time more stations add to it. Using that process, it takes years to determine years if something is going to be a hit or not. And that involves millions and millions of dollars.”

Nuzum added that whether the latest shows catch on or not, "I’m really proud of what we’ve come up with. The bigger experiment is the process."