PBS Conference in Chicago: Outline - December 2-3, 2004

Posted by Mitchell - November 7, 2004 (entry 251)

PBS Conference Outline
Updated 10/13/04

Day One
Thursday, December 2, 2004

9:00-9:15 a.m.
Welcome and conference outline from Carroll Joynes, Executive Director, Cultural Policy Center at The University of Chicago.

Session One

9:15-10:00 a.m.
“The Future of Public Television,” a keynote address by Pat Mitchell, President and CEO, PBS

Ms. Mitchell will address the complicated funding issues facing public broadcasting. She will also discuss both new PBS programming and the programming opportunities afforded by the development of digital channels and other technological advances.

10:00-10:30 a.m. Moderator and audience questions for Ms. Mitchell

Possible points of discussion:
* Is the very term “public television” counterproductive given that many viewers think their tax dollars fund public television, when in reality, many stations exist on a preponderance of non-tax funding?
* How does PBS plan to deal with declining audiences on a national level? How much should ratings matter in public television? What should we make of pledge drives, detested by so many television critics?
* How is public television coping with the competition from cable channels and other outlets that now specialize in programming once dominated by public television—the Arts and Entertainment Channel, Disney, Odyssey, C-Span, Bravo, the Discovery Channel and Discovery Kids and Science, the History Channel, Nickelodeon, and BBC America—just to name a few examples?
* Where is the real power in the public television system—with the stations? PBS? The Corporation for Public Broadcasting? The state legislatures? Ideally, how should the power be distributed?

Session Two

10:45-11:15 a.m.
“An Alternate View of the Future of Public Television,” an address by Dr. Jerold M. Starr, Executive Director, Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting.
Dr. Starr will discuss the possibility of a major restructuring of public broadcasting as an independent trust comparable to the Red Cross or the U.S. International Olympic Committee.

Session Three

11:15-Noon
A moderated analysis of the first two conference addresses. Participants will include:
* Newton Minow, former Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
* Lawrence Grossman, former President, PBS and NBC News * William J. McCarter, former President and CEO, WTTW, Chicago

Noon-1:00 p.m.
Lunch

Session Four: Views from the Station

1:00-1:45 p.m.
“The Stations’ View the Future of Public Television”
An address by John Lawson, President and CEO, The Association of Public Television Stations

1:45-2:45 p.m.
The Stations Speak
John Callaway will moderate a panel discussion between executives from a variety of public television stations. Participants will include:
* Dan Schmidt, President and CEO, WTTW Chicago * James Pagliarini, President and CEO, Twin Cities Public Television
* Sherri Hope Culver, General Manager, WYBE-TV, Philadelphia
* Sandra Session-Robertson, General Manager, WCEU-TV, Daytona Beach

2:45-3:30 p.m.
Questions for the panel from the audience
Possible points of discussion:
* Are the interests of large public television stations so irreconcilable from the smaller stations and state systems that a kind of “U.N. Security Council versus U.N. General Assembly” system is needed?
* Why are so many communities served by “overlapping” public television stations? Are there too many public television stations? What are the financial and viewership consequences of these overlapping stations?
* Some of the smaller public stations mostly “push the button” to relay the national programming schedule. They provide little in the way of local programming. Why should they exist?

3:30-3:45 p.m.
Break

Session Five

3:45-4:30 p.m.
“The Politics of Public Television”
An address by Ken Auletta, author, media critic for The New Yorker magazine.

Mr. Auletta will discuss how politics can affect public television funding and programming.

4:30-5:00 p.m.
Moderator and audience questions for Mr. Auletta
Possible points of discussion:
* In the past, conservative critics have threatened to abolish public television—are both parties now on board with Big Bird?
* Is public broadcasting a plaything of “the liberal elite?”
* How do the major commercial media outlets view PBS and to what extent to they limit funding of public television?

Day Two
Friday, December 3, 2004

Session One

9:00-9:15 a.m.
Welcome back from Carroll Joynes, Executive Director, Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago

9:15-10:00 a.m.
Should Public Television Listen to the Radio?
Moderated panel discussion with radio executives, including: * Torey Malatia, President and General Manager, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio
* Steve Robinson, Senior Vice-President for Radio, WFMT Radio, Chicago
* A representative from National Public Radio in Washington D.C.

10:00-10:30 a.m.
Questions from the moderator and the audience
Possible points of discussion:
* Why does national public television lack the kind of national and international news service provided by National Public Radio, and should public television produce such a service?
* Why can’t public television stations make the kind of program contributions to PBS national television programming that local reporters, producers, and programmers make to the national public radio services?
* Local public radio stations are provided with all kinds of opportunities to “cut into” NPR news programs with local updates. Why is this resisted by the Lehrer News Hour on PBS?
* WFMT Chicago is a non-profit fine arts radio station that runs commercials. Could this be a model for some public television stations?

10:30-10:45 a.m. Break

Session Two
10:45-11:30 a.m.
Independent Producers and Dissenters This session will feature a moderated panel which will include independent producers and community-based critics of public television. Panelists to include:
* Karen Bond, Chicago Media Action

11:30-Noon
Questions from the audience Possible points of discussion:
* What role should independent producers play in the future of public television?
* For those who feel public television has abandoned working people and minorities, what course of redress is available?
* What can public television learn from such institutions as public access stations and C-Span?

Noon-1:00 p.m.
Lunch

Session Three

1:00-1:45 p.m.
Public Television for Kids: Views from the Academy

Cybele Raver of the Harris School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago will moderate a panel discussion between eminent researchers in the fields of communications and psychology.

Panelists will include:
* Dale Kunkel, University of Arizona
* Deborah Linebarger, University of Pennsylvania
* Monique Ward, University of Michigan

1:45-2:15 p.m.
Questions from the audience
Possible points of discussion:
* How crucial is children’s programming to the mission of public television?
* How well has PBS children’s programming served the needs of children and families?
* How well does public television serve the needs and development of older children and ethnic minority adolescents?
* If most public television’s children’s programming migrated to commercial outlets, what effect would this have on public television audiences? On children?

2:15-2:30 p.m.
Break

Session Four
2:30-4:00 p.m.
Now Tell Us What You Really Think
Veteran broadcast journalist John Callaway will lead a plenary session of all the presenters and panelists who have stayed for the second day of the conference. This will be a “last chance” opportunity for those who have participated in the panels and members of the audience to raise questions not yet answered or to underscore arguments made earlier in the sessions. Mr. Callaway will attempt to identify both the “calls to action” that have been made during the conference, and the policy recommendations that have emerged.

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