Wednesday roundup: PBS Digital won’t pursue product placement; KUNM revisits plagiarism charge

By Andrew Lapin

Eating Alabama, a pubTV documentary on sustainable eating in the South, is a 2013 James Beard Award winner. (Photo: Andrew Grace)

Eating Alabama, a pubTV documentary about sustainable eating in the South, won a 2013 James Beard Award. (Photo: Andrew Grace)

• Though PBS courted online advertisers with a presentation May 5 at the NewFronts conference, the network is unlikely to pursue product placement with its Digital Studios shows, the New York Times reports. “We’re absolutely going to hold these partnerships to the same standards we’ve held for decades,” PBS Digital Studios senior director Matt Graham told the Times. The network’s lineup of YouTube shows, including popular offerings such as PBS Idea Channel and Blank on Blank, currently run traditional video ads prior to episodes.

• The news director of KUNM in Albuquerque, N.M., has written another explanation and apology for the charges of plagiarism the station has faced recently. In a letter to CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan reposted on KUNM.org May 9, Elaine Baumgartel cited the slow “personnel disciplinary process” at the University of New Mexico as a factor in the station’s delayed response to the charges. She also admitted that she had not thought to make audiences aware of the charges immediately. Baumgartel denied a listener’s allegations that the station’s slow response was tied to a need for funding.

• Five public media programs enjoyed the taste of being James Beard Award winners when 2013’s food-themed awards were announced Monday. PBS’s Martha Stewart’s Cooking School won for best television program in a studio or fixed location, while the network’s Anthony Bourdain–hosted The Mind of a Chef won for best TV program on location. The pubTV documentary Eating Alabama, funded by CPB, Alabama Public Television and the Independent Television Service, won for best special/documentary, and the “Art of Food” segment on WHYY’s Friday Arts won for best TV segment. A This American Life story about pig intestines sold as calamari won for best radio show/audio webcast.

• Canadian Broadcasting Corp. CEO Hubert Lacroix wants to have a “national conversation” about the pubcaster’s future role in Canadian society. In an appearance at the Canadian Club of Montreal Monday, Lacroix addressed the staff and funding cutbacks the network made in recent months. He said the CBC will have to revisit its original mandate to determine its place in modern Canadian society, according to the Canadian Press. Lacroix wants to involve CBC employees, Canadian citizens and television and Internet providers in the discussion.

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