Public Broadcasting

Bailouts for media moguls? Thinking outside the (newspaper) box

DeeDee Halleck

John Nichols and Robert McChesney have written a widely posted article searching for answers to the current emergencies in the newspaper business. They recognize the crisis as an opportunity to rethink public media in general and their suggestions for remedy are at least a provocative starter for the needed reassessment and creative activism. They suggest the government pump in $60 billion over the next three years, a pricetag that is similar to, though less than, the handouts to AIG and the US banks. It's hard to believe, however, that anyone could seriously want to salvage the "print-fitted" U.S. corporate news.

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Persephone Miel: What Should PBS Do?

Josh Wilson, Independent Arts and Media

Persephone Miel, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center, brings some Internet-era vision for the idea of public media. Rather than look to new nonprofits and new structures, she says the real opportunity is to activate existing public media -- PBS, NPR, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- to more effectively serve people and communities. But this may require a reinvention of what an NPR or PBS "station" is, as well as a reimagining of the role of taxpayer funding in this picture.

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Lightpath proposal would unite public media, education for faster broadband

Steve Behrens, Current

‘Let’s drive that thing,” Joaquín Alvarado urged the webmasters and pubcasters at the Integrated Media Association’s Public Media Conference Feb. 19 in Atlanta. “How many of you folks are right now planning your NTIA grant?”

Alvarado, a filmmaker and media advocate who founded the National Public Lightpath project that CPB, PBS and NPR endorsed in their January letter to President-elect Obama, was talking about a $7.2 billion public-service opportunity in federal economic-stimulus spending.

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PA governor's proposed budget eliminates public TV funding

Tim Schooley, Pittsburgh Business Times

Amid Gov. Ed Rendell’s new budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, one budget cut certainly wasn’t broadcasted: the elimination of all state funding for the Pennsylvania Public Television Network.

Last year, according to press materials issued along with the governor’s budget proposal, PPTN had $12.3 million in state funding. Rendell’s budget proposes eliminating that funding and transferring PPTN’s infrastructure responsibilities to the state Office of Administration.

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Funding for digital content, too? New law would DOIT

Steve Behrens, Current

If some level of broadband Internet hookup becomes the federal government’s next goal for universal service, will Washington help assure that there’s educational and public-interest content flowing in those big, fat pipes?

Last July, Congress authorized creation of a new nonprofit to research and produce digital media content, though it’s awaiting appropriation and startup.

Lawrence Grossman and Newton Minow, who were PBS president and chair, respectively, in the late ’70s, and compatriot Anne G. Murphy have been on the case for eight years, though the advocates’ digital platform of choice would not always be linear video. These grayheads are into computer simulation and learning games.

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‘Stimulus investment in public media’ proposed to Obama

Steve Behrens and Dru Sefton, Current Online

CPB, NPR and PBS, in consultation with APTS, have asked President-elect Obama to include $550 million for noncommercial public-service media in his far larger package of spending and tax cuts to stimulate the economy and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. The groups' joint letter (pdf), sent Jan. 2, suggests federal aid for six projects involving public radio and TV that will create jobs and “produce sustainable improvements to the nation’s communications infrastructure.”

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Goodbye News and Notes: NPR's troubled history with black-oriented programs

Richard Prince, Journal-isms/Maynard Institute

The staff of "News & Notes," the show that started life on National Public Radio as "The Tavis Smiley Show," a vehicle for the network to reach out to African American audiences, is wondering whether it is about to go on the chopping block. [RTM Note - the show was in fact scheduled for cancellation shortly after this article was published.]

Kevin Roderick wrote late Friday on his laobserved blog:

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More on NPR staff,program cuts

David Folkenflik, NPR

NPR News announced Wednesday that it is canceling two daily radio programs — Day to Day and News and Notes — as part of a broader effort by the company to close a projected budget shortfall of $23 million for its current fiscal year. Overall, NPR will cut 7 percent of its work force and slash expenses further around the company.

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Hit by recession, NPR to lay off seven percent of staff

Paul Farhi, Washington Post

Faced with a sharp decline in revenue, National Public Radio said today it will pare back its once-flourishing operations, and institute its first organization-wide layoffs in 25 years.

Washington-based NPR said it would lay off about 7 percent of workforce and eliminate two daily programs produced out of its facilities in Culver City, Cal. The shows include "Day to Day," which was aimed at younger listeners, and the newsmaker-interview program "News & Notes," which NPR hoped would attract African Americans.

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CPB considers expansive options for future of public media funding

Steve Behrens and Dru Sefton, Current Online

When the president-to-be got elected, in part, by mastering Internet social media, and now wants to spread the Web’s powers to citizens as part of his platform — how does public broadcasting fit in?

Barack Obama’s educational and public-service goals track closely with pubcasting’s. This is the candidate whose February 2007 candidacy speech had the ring of public broadcasting’s classic inclusiveness pledge in an applause line: “... and let’s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America!”

But despite its online successes, pubcasting still puts most of its sweat into what webheads demean as a “legacy” platform. And what about that geezer name — public broadcasting?

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey