The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended level funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($465 million), as well as $29 million for the Ready to Learn early education initiative with the Department of Education, and $20 million to continue a noncommercial TV transmission tech upgrade.
The coronavirus bill specifies that CPB spend the funds to maintain programming and services and to preserve small and rural stations.
Arthur L. Singer Jr., who became an unheralded father of public television in the late 1960s after commercial networks were famously accused of broadcasting a “vast wasteland” of programs, died on Dec. 25. He played a key behind-the-scenes role in the Carnegie Commission report that led to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and federal funding. Singer was said to have been instrumental in galvanizing federal officials, philanthropies and academics to seed the public airwaves with quality programming and to finance future development. He was 90.
Podcasts have been a “huge return on investment for us and a major growth engine for our business,” says NPR CFO Deborah Cowan.
Renard T. Jenkins, the public broadcaster’s senior director of operations: production, media and distribution, talks about why PBS is converting to the Interoperable Mastering Format for delivering programming to OTT services. While the move was spurred by a Netflix requirement, Jenkins says that because of the format’s many advantages “I think IMF makes sense. It is the right thing for television broadcasters to be looking at right now.”
Downton Abbey, the most popular drama in PBS history, returned to a near-record audience Sunday night. According to Nielsen preliminary estimates, the fifth-season premiere averaged about 10.1 million viewers from 10:15 to 11:15 p.m., just a smidge behind the show’s fourth-season opener a year ago (10.2 million). Among all networks, only CBS drew a larger audience during the time period.
Among all broadcast and cable networks, PBS said it ranked fifth in the Nielsen audience measurement, compared with eighth for the previous season and 11th for 2011-12.
Pittsburgh public television and radio station WQED is laying off some workers, cutting some full-time employees to part time and chopping vacant positions as part of a reorganization starting today,
Michael Jones, PBS’s chief operating officer since January 2009, is moving into an advisory role as executive vice president. In a Sept. 9 memo detailing several changes within PBS’s top ranks, President Paula Kerger announced that Jones will continue to report to her, serving “as a chief adviser working closely with me on a series of critical projects.” Those include management of an upgrade to public TV’s interconnection system and issues related to television spectrum issues.
The two noncommercial stations in Los Angeles will give up 6 MHz of spectrum for the FCC’s auction and then share a single over-the-air channel.
An average of 8.5 million viewers tuned in for Downton Abbey‘s fourth season finale Sunday night. That’s a personal finale best for the period drama on PBS. The Season 3 finale drew 8.2 million viewers on February 17 last year, a 50% surge from the Season 2 ender in 2012.
Philadelphia pubcaster WHYY will lead a multimedia collaboration, dubbed Keystone Crossroads, that will explore urban decline and solutions in Pennsylvania. Partner stations include WESA Pittsburgh, WPSU Johnstown-Altoona and WITF Harrisburg. Pittsburgh’s WQED is an associate partner.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has proposed a $20,000 fine against Maryland Public Television for alleged violations of the agency’s equal opportunity employment rules and “false” reporting to the FCC about the alleged infractions.
The New York PBS station will use a dedicated editorial and production team to report The Pension Peril throughout the country, producing news stories for the PBS NewsHour Weekend, collaborating with local public TV station producers and commissioning both radio and television documentaries for national distribution, in addition to launching a dedicated website.
At a meeting at CPB’s headquarters in Washington, Harry Hawkes of Booz & Co.’s media and technology practice told CPB board members that if the FCC goes ahead with plans to clear 120 MHz of spectrum for use by mobile devices, 110 to 130 pubcasters will need to shift their channels due to repacking even if they don’t participate in the auction.
The 9th Circuit says the government was justified in attempting to preserve public television from commercial pressures.
A new wind of change is blowing through public media organizations of all shapes and sizes, sweeping through executive offices as top managers opt to move on to their next jobs or retire. More than 50 public media outlets are searching for a new chief executive or general manager or have completed such a search within the last 10 months.
After public safety agencies transmit wireless emergency alert (WEA) messages to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the PBS WARN system automatically reformats the messages for transmission to local stations through the public TV interconnection system. The networking technology establishes a redundant, over-the-air path for the WEAs to reach commercial mobile service providers (CMSPs) and their individual clients.