Public TV in South Africa faces questions about budget and mission

JOHANNESBURG – Similarities can be misleading, but at first glance the South African public broadcaster faces many of the same challenges as his or her counterparts in the U.S.. Severely short of money, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) received a government loan of 1.47 billion Rand – about $200 million – in return for a promise to reduce its spending. However, many are skeptical that SABC can resolve its longstanding issues of budget and organizational structure….

Revisiting the origins and mission of U.S. public broadcasting

WASHINGTON – Sometimes to know where you are going it is useful to know where you have been. As we examine the future of public service media in the US, a good starting point is the original intended mission of public broadcasting, which was formalized in the 1967 report of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. This report led to the start of public television as we now know it. Radio came later and was added by Congress. The Commission grew out of a meeting of educational broadcasters – mostly classroom TV – convened by the U.S. Department of Education…

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…

Public TV funding cuts fall unevenly across the U.S.; Fundraising criticized

WASHINGTON — Public broadcasting stations face a widely disparate landscape of funding cuts, according to participants at the CCLP Washington, D.C. forum in July. One significant variable is geography and politics – and the state where the station is located: Tom Thomas, who has studied public broadcasting funding for decades, noted that there are five states that devote $70 million to public TV and radio – more than $10 million per state, far more than the other 45 states. So if one of those five states were to cut funding significantly, or zero it out entirely, it would have a…

Media executives, policymakers and scholars assess public media’s future

Public broadcasting executives, journalists, policymakers, and others met in USC's Washington, DC office on Monday, July 25 to discuss growing threats to public broadcasting stations across the US. The program featured opening remarks by Geoffrey Cowan, director of the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and was organized by Adam Clayton Powell III, CCLP's senior fellow who has served in top positions at several commercial and public news organizations. USC Annenberg's Dean Ernest J. Wilson III also participated in the forum. Tom Thomas, Co-CEO of Station Resource Group, observed that while public broadcasters have always had aspirations that exceeded available…

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…

NJ Public Television Signs Off; Other PBS, NPR Stations Threatened by Cuts

WASHINGTON — While the nation celebrated the holiday weekend of independence, New Jersey's public television network signed off for the last time and many other PBS stations around the US may soon follow suit. The reason: cuts in funding from state governments across the country. As I had written about on the blog last December, NJN has finally come to the end of its broadcasting days. The final New Jersey newscast on NJN was Thursday night. At its end, viewers saw a simple sign, "New Jersey Network. April 5, 1971 – June 30, 2011." As of that night, 130 employees…

Landmark FCC Report highlights CCLP research

For its new report assessing the national and local media landscape and offering policy recommendations on how to preserve the public's access to news and information, the Federal Communications Commission appointed award-winning journalist and CCLP Senior Fellow Cinny Kennard to the working group that led research, conducted interviews and drafted the document. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski publicly thanked Kennard in his remarks at the FCC meeting in Washington D.C. on June 9. Kennard (pictured below) assembled a research team that included CCLP junior fellows Rebecca Shapiro and Monica Alba, along with research associates Cater Lee and Sarah Erickson. They investigated…

Leading Journalism Association Spotlights CCLP Research on Funding the News

CCLP’s groundbreaking report, Public Policy and Funding the News, continues to garner media hits and attention of experts in journalism. On March 28th, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication cited the CCLP study in their call for Congress to maintain federal funding of public broadcasting. As research also points out, commercial media enterprises have —- for most of this country’s history —- received federal assistance in the form of discounted postal subsidies and tax breaks, for instance. Yet, Americans trust public media more for relevant, complete news. A recent Roper Poll listed PBS as the nation’s most-¬≠trusted institution….