VIDEO – Public Media Futures Los Angeles Forum

Public Media Futures Los Angeles Forum USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy, in partnership with American University’s School of Communication presented a forum on the future of public media in an era of shrinking government support. The conversation focused on innovations in programming and new models for sustainable funding. Participants included top executives and programmers, including Bill Davis, president and CEO, KPCC/Southern California Public Radio; Al Jerome, president and CEO, KCET; Ed Miskevich, station manager, KOCE/PBS SoCal; Suzanne Marmion, news and editorial strategy director, KPBS-TV/FM. CCLP senior fellow Adam Clayton Powell III led the conversation together with Mark…

‘Downton Abbey’ hype may highlight PBS problems

PBS executives are promoting the second season of its imported British costume drama "Downton Abbey," doing their best not only to attract viewers to the program but also to present "Downton Abbey" as part of a new strategy to attract audiences. However, critics such as Brian Lowry of Variety have responded by saying that this is more public relations than anything resembling a deliberate plan, "misreading something after the fact, then allowing execs to conflate an unexpected windfall into a 'strategy.'" And across the Atlantic, the hype may have backfired. In the UK, where "Downton Abbey" runs on the commercial…

Without PBS, public TV’s KCET becomes independent production center

WASHINGTON — KCET, the Los Angeles public television station that cancelled PBS programming last winter, is being watched closely by public broadcasting executives here as it charts a new course – as an independent public TV station that is also a regional production center. KCET achieved surprising success with its spring post-PBS schedule of international news from the BBC and NHK, re-runs of cooking shows and a limited number of locally-produced programs: After initially losing half of its audience last winter, by May it was attracting more viewers than PBS station KOCE, which was running "Nova," "Masterpiece," and the rest…

PBS loses a 4th station; public television local news commitment questioned

WASHINGTON — The Public Broadcasting System has been abandoned by a fourth station, WIPR-TV in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As previously reported, KCET-TV in Los Angeles dropped its PBS programming in January of this year. Two public television stations in Florida followed suit in early July. WIPR canceled its PBS affiliation after an unsuccessful year-long negotiation over the amount the station would pay for programming, according to an article in Current magazine. That was exactly the same pattern as in Los Angeles, according to KCET President and General Manager Al Jerome in an interview late last week with CCLP. In…

Fund cuts for public television lead to mergers; is there life after PBS?

WASHINGTON – Coping with reduced funding by state governments and other sources, public television stations are pursuing diverse options ranging from mergers and consolidation to dropping PBS network programs. As reported in early July, funding cuts led to the demise of the New Jersey Network of PBS stations, which were merged into New York's WNET. The station had earlier acquired WLIW on Long Island, so currently, WNET controls PBS programming on stations well to the east and south of New York City. New York is not unique: San Francisco's public television station, KQED, acquired KTEH, serving San Jose and the…

Public TV stations face challenges on West, East Coasts

All of the PBS TV stations in the state of New Jersey may go off the air entirely early next year. The New Jersey network's governing authority meets on Wednesday to consider how to survive – or sell. Kept alive by a subsidy by state taxpayers that is scheduled to end shortly, one option on the table is a merger with New York City's WNET and/or Philadelphia's WHYY. This news comes as KCET in Los Angeles prepares to drop PBS programming in three weeks in favor of an independent public TV schedule that starts next month….

Public radio is enjoying boom times

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III of USC Annenberg and the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy are preparing for the annual James L. Loper Lecture in Public Broadcasting on November 18, 2010. This year's speaker is NPR president and CEO, Vivian Schiller. Public radio, despite the failings of most media outlets in the US, is experiencing an increase in listeners and in funding. Below is an article published in The Los Angeles Times by James Rainey exploring the growth that is occurring in public radio. ——————————————————————————————————————————————- Larry Mantle, right, host of KPCC's popular "AirTalk" program. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times…

PBS: End of the Old Boys Network?

Los Angeles station KCET's announcement on Friday that it is canceling all PBS programs is a dramatic, all-stakes-on-the-table gamble. KCET is gambling that, without hefty payments to PBS and substituting a new lineup of independent and international programs for the PBS network feed, it will be a smaller but sustainable public service broadcaster. For its part, PBS is gambling that KCET cannot possibly go through with its plan and will have no alternative but to pay the substantial dues required to keep PBS programs on the station….