WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (May 23-29, 2011)

MEDIA

Burdened by PBS Dues, Stations Consider Withdrawing.” By Elizabeth Jensen. New York Times. May 22, 2011. Television executives who gathered here last week for PBS’s annual meeting enthusiastically embraced projects such as the five-part “Women, War and Peace” and heard the actress Anna Deavere Smith speak so passionately of PBS’s role in bringing the arts to Americans that Paula Kerger, PBS’s president and chief executive, teared up. But while Ms. Smith’s keynote address and the gloriously sunny skies contributed to an overall atmosphere of enthusiasm among member station representatives, some executives did not see much of the nice weather. They were holed up trying to fashion a plan to keep public television programming on the air in Orlando after June 30, when WMFE — the city’s major public broadcaster — ends its contract with PBS. The station is being taken over by the founders of a religious programmer, Daystar Television. WMFE announced in April that it was selling its TV station (it will keep an NPR-affiliated public radio station) because it was unable to pay its PBS dues of just under $1 million annually. José A. Fajardo, the station’s president, said that the public television model was no longer viable because of decreased donations, including a 34 percent drop in pledge contributions from viewers. And WMFE is not alone. In this financially troubled time, some PBS stations are questioning whether they can continue to find a way to make the PBS business model work.

Wikipedia founder opens new front in privacy battle.” By Kevin Rawlinson. Independent. May 23, 2011. Lawyers and celebrities seeking to prevent the world knowing their indiscretions have another hurdle in their path – Wikipedia – after its founder, Jimmy Wales, pledged to resist pressure to censor entries. Referring to the case of the “family footballer” who has injuncted the media from revealing that he had an affair with the Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas – whose Wikipedia page now records this fact – Mr Wales said: “This only became a story because the footballer is pursuing legal action against Twitter. It started to become a big political and social issue. Once that happens it is a valid issue for Wikipedia. As an encyclopaedia, we try to document facts taken from reputable sources. We should not be stopped from recording facts. “As the story continues, all of the injunctions that are in place and subject to public discussion become more likely to be covered by a source we would consider citing,” he added. “When they are, we will consider the information for inclusion. “If someone tried to force us to take the information down, we would definitely fight them. If we got a valid court order from a judge in the USA, there would be little we could do other than to comply. But I think that is very unlikely, because of the First Amendment.” Like Twitter, Wikipedia is based in San Francisco and does not have any physical presence in England, which it believes allows it to operate outside the legal jurisdiction of the English courts. Mr Wales said: “We probably wouldn’t consider setting up [an office] in the UK due to potential problems with censorship.”

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