Jan 6, 2011

IndiesLab helps "Parking Lot" find its space on iTunes

The Independent Digital Distribution Lab — that's IndiesLab to you — continues to help filmmakers maneuver through that great digital assortment of online platforms. Check out these details on its project with The Parking Lot Movie. The quirky doc managed to crack the Top 10 on the iTunes documentary list for three weeks straight.

Former WXEL exec says station deal "violates the wishes of the community"

Longtime pubcaster Fred Flaxman, a former vice president for development of WXEL in West Palm Beach, Fla., speaks out against the station's recent deal with Classical South Florida in a letter to the editor of the Palm Beach Post Wednesday (Jan. 5). "The community advisory board of WXEL opposes the sale of WXEL-FM to Classical South Florida," he writes. "As mandated by federal law, the board represents the community served by the public broadcasting station. Thus, selling to an out-of-state owner violates the wishes of the community the station serves and should not be permitted by the Federal Communications Commission, which has to approve any broadcast license transfer." Classical South Florida is owned by American Public Media, based in Minnesota. Flaxman's career in the system dates to 1970, when he was the founding manager of WETA-FM in Washington, D.C.

In wake of Williams's firing, Weiss resigns as NPR News chief

NPR News Chief Ellen Weiss resigned today as the board of directors concluded its review of the dismissal of former news analyst Juan Williams.

Weiss was the news exec who dismissed Williams by telephone last October, igniting a controversy over public radio's news values and a political attack on public broadcasting's federal funding.

NPR President Vivian Schiller, whose public remarks about Williams fueled outrage over the dismissal, retains the confidence of the NPR Board, according to a statement issued this afternoon. But the board voted to deny her 2010 bonus.

The review, initiated weeks after the controversial firing, found that Williams was dismissed according to the terms of his contract. "The facts gathered during the review revealed that the termination was not the result of special interest group or donor pressure," the board said. "However, because of concerns regarding the speed and handling of the termination process, the board additionally recommended that certain actions be taken with regard to management involved in Williams' contract termination."

The board recommended that NPR take several steps to address issues identified during the review, which was conducted by the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP. These include reexamining NPR's ethics code and its policy guiding NPR journalists' appearances on other media outlets. The review should ensure that NPR's practices "encourage a broad range of viewpoints to assist in its decision-making, support its mission and reflect the diversity of national audiences," the board said.

"The board regrets this incident's impact on NPR and will work with NPR's CEO, Vivian Schiller, to ensure that these actions will be expeditiously completed, examined and monitored on an ongoing basis."

In an email to NPR staff announcing Weiss's resignation at 1:36 today, Schiller said Weiss has "made meaningful and lasting contributions to the evolution of NPR and our newsroom....Ellen exemplifies journalistic professionalism and integrity. I am grateful to her for all she has accomplished at NPR."

Weiss has spent virtually all of her career at NPR, rising through the ranks to become senior news v.p. in April 2007.

JAN. 7 UPDATE: Juan Williams comments on Weiss's departure in this video from Fox News, in which he says that Weiss was the "keeper of the flame of liberal orthodoxy" at NPR.

Rep. Lamborn reintroduces bills to end federal support of CPB, NPR

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) on Wednesday (Jan. 5) reintroduced two bills to defund public broadcasting. H.R. 68 would end all federal appropriations for CPB, while H.R. 69 would specifically deny federal money to NPR. Both would take place after fiscal year 2013.

“While I like much of NPR’s programming, the fact is, it is luxury we cannot afford to subsidize," Lamborn said in a statement. "This effort to cut government spending should be part of the larger push from this new Republican Congress to cut spending and get our nation’s fiscal house in order.” Both bills have been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

NPR has become a conservative target since the firing of correspondent Juan Williams in October. He had admitted on Fox News that passengers in Muslim garb on airplanes made him nervous (Current, Nov. 1, 2010).

JAN. 7 UPDATE: The bills face a typical lengthy process: First committee hearings, then committee markup, next committee approval, then a vote in the full House. Then the Senate receives the bill for consideration. Lamborn may pursue other strategies for passage, his Communications Director Catherine Mortensen told Current. Lamborn could push to have the bills brought to the House floor as part of the ongoing YouCut program, a strategy that failed last November in a House with fewer Republicans. Or he could work to have the legislation inserted into a larger bill of spending cuts. "Congressman Lamborn will pursue an 'all-of-the above' approach to get his legislation passed," Mortensen said. "Depending on which route the bill takes, it could be a matter of weeks or months before the bill gets a vote on the House floor."

"Charlie Rose" finds schedule spot on PBS SoCal/KOCE

As PBS SoCal/KOCE shifts to primary station status in the Los Angeles market, some viewers are complaining about losing favorite programs. Once KCET went independent Jan. 1, the popular talk show Charlie Rose migrated to KVCR; not all local cable systems carry that station. And PBS SoCal was obligated to carry late-night tele-courses. But now, due to budget cuts at Coastline Community College, that programming is being dropped. So Charlie Rose will run at midnight on KOCE starting Jan. 17. More updates on programming shifts and viewer reaction in the Los Angeles Times TV blog.