Jun 2, 2011

Web-based reality series now online from WGBH and AARP

WGBH and AARP are co-producing a web-only reality series, 5 Weeks to a New Life, focusing on "revitalizing a marriage and other relationships, staying sexually active throughout life, looking good without resorting to Botox, financing dreams and living a life with purpose," they said in a statement. The program follows two married couples and four singles facing the challenges of middle age, with guidance from personal-growth experts. The content "was designed not only to spark our thinking about what we want, but to inspire us to move forward," said Laurie Donnelly, executive producer of WGBH's lifestyle programming.

South Dakota Public Broadcasting reducing staff by 15 percent

Due to a nearly 17 percent cut in state funding, South Dakota Public Broadcasting is eliminating 10.5 full-time positions for the upcoming fiscal year. The pubcaster said in a statement that jobs are being cut from outreach and education, engineering, television, radio and marketing — 15 percent of the total staff will be gone as of June 8.

In addition, it's reorganizing the education and outreach department into an online-based service, and ending initiatives including Ready to Learn and the overnight and daytime educational TV programming block. “The cuts made to the FY2011 budget required a system-wide analysis,” said Julie Andersen, executive director.

"It's tough all over in our industry," SDPB spokesperson Fritz Miller told Current, immediately following a luncheon for departing colleagues on June 2. "We're absorbing the cuts as best we can and look ahead to brighter days, keeping in mind that the people we serve depend on us."

NBR opens Denver bureau with Rocky Mountain PBS

Nightly Business Report has launched a news bureau in Denver as part of an agreement with Rocky Mountain PBS. The bureau, which opened Wednesday (June 1), will cover stories of national interest happening in the region. NBR also opened a Silicon Valley bureau last November and recently began broadcasting on Sirius XM radio as part of an ambitious expansion process planned by owner Mykalai Kontilai, whose NBR Worldwide purchased the show last year.

Schiller appointed digital chief for NBC News

Former NPR President Vivian Schiller will join NBC News in July as chief digital officer, overseeing digital strategy of both NBC News and MSNBC.

Her responsibilities include strategic oversight of NBC's digital extensions on the web and in mobile, interaction with the joint venture that oversees the digital network, and directing new emerging properties such as and She reports to NBC News President Steve Capus, who said her journalistic background and digital expertise brings "a strong new pillar to the NBC News leadership team.”

Schiller, who served as NPR president two years, laid the groundwork for a national and local digital service strategy between NPR and its member stations. She resigned in March after her management team became mired in political controversies over a series of missteps, beginning with the mishandled firing of former news analyst Juan Williams.

New Hampshire PTV cuts 20 full-time employees anticipating state funding fall

New Hampshire Public Television is eliminating some 20 full-time positions to offset an "impending loss" of $2.7 million in state funding, which will be a 30 percent reduction in its $8.8 million annual operating budget. NHPTV spokesperson Grace Lessner tells Current that the full-time staff of 49 will fall to 30 as of July 1. Most of the affected staffers were notified on Wednesday (June 1), spokesperson Lessner told Foster's Daily Democrat. She said cuts come from all departments, including administration, production and content. "It was devastating," she said. Remaining staff will receive salary cuts of  between 4 percent to 10 percent and reductions in the station's staff retirement plan contribution. Dozens of contracts and services will be canceled and the station's Educational Engagement services will be scaled back. Also, NH Outlook and Granite State Challenge, two local programs produced by NHPTV, will be placed on hiatus. The station will be working with other New England public broadcasters to develop "a strategic and sustainable model" to continue providing PBS national and local programs, Board Chairman Mark Collin said in a statement.

Project VoiceScape presents teenage filmmakers with grants

Fifteen projects by 22 teenage filmmakers will receive grants through Project VoiceScape, a collaboration between Adobe Youth Voices and P.O.V., public TV's longest-running showcase for indie nonfiction films. The Adobe and PBS Foundations jointly announced the grants today (June 1). Here is a list of the winning programs (PDF).