Wednesday roundup: Pew releases annual media report, advocacy group protests renewal of WGBH license

By Current Staff

• NPR’s monthly listenership hit an eight-year high in 2013 with an average of 27.3 million listeners each month, according to the State of the News Media study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, released Wednesday. NPR’s average monthly audience was up from 26 million in 2012. On public television, the weeknight broadcast audience for PBS NewsHour continued to slide, dropping 3 percent from 2012 to an average of 947,000 viewers. The average audience in 2012 was 977,000, down 8 percent from 2011, when the average audience was 1.06 million viewers. The Pew study also found that while legacy media, especially newspapers, continued to provide the bulk of content, audience for online news outlets continued to grow at a brisk pace. Researchers found that while newspapers saw a 6.4 percent reduction in the number of journalists they employ, digital news ventures added 5,000 new full-time professional jobs. The entire report is available here.

Correction: The original version of this item incorrectly stated the average monthly listenership at NPR.

• The Committee for Community Access, a Boston media-advocacy group headed by retiree Jack Bernstein, has filed a petition with the FCC asking it to deny renewal of WGBH-FM’s broadcast license this spring, reports the Boston Globe. The organization wants the station to restore music programming, which it discontinued for a news and talk schedule in 2009. “We have had many conversations with Mr. Bernstein about his personal programming preferences,” WGBH spokesperson Jeanne Hopkins told the paper, “and we are not surprised that he is now sharing his preferences with the FCC as well. We’ll respond to the FCC, too.”

• Reauthorization of the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act (STELA), which governs satellite television, has passed the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, reports The Hill. The Association for Public Television Stations worked with Congress on the original passage of STELA in 2010. STELA is particularly important to rural viewers, whose television viewing often depends on satellites.

• Broadcast-to-stream provider Aereo has no backup plan for a possible Supreme Court ruling against the company, CEO Chet Kanojia told Bloomberg TV’s Jon Erlichman. “There’s no Plan B,” Kanojia said in a Wednesday interview with Bloomberg. “We need to believe in our merit. . . . We do think it’s the right thing. Progress is important. The mission of this company was to try to create an open platform, try to wedge the system open a little bit. And if we don’t succeed in that, . . . it’ll be a tragedy, but it is what it is.”

• David Solomon, producer at Pittsburgh’s WQED, has been on a mission since 2012 to connect families of WWI veterans with sketches of them by artist Elizabeth Black. Solomon has tracked down 30 families based on Black’s portraits and has “good leads” on 25 more, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. WQED’s documentary on Black, Portraits for the Home Front: The Story of Elizabeth Black, first aired in November and has been picked up for national distribution by American Public Television, according to the Post-Gazette.

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