The February 2017 Program Guide
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED explores innovation in the classroom.
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The March 2017 Program Guide
This month PBS Hawai’i will present the 2017 HIKI NŌ AWARDS.
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At first, when Ronald Reagan launched his Presidency in 1981, he didn’t like the idea of federal monies going to fund PBS and NPR stations across the country.
Then he saw how public-service media stations leveraged a relatively small amount of federal funding to gain private donations. One federal dollar might turn into, say, eight dollars, with citizens, businesses and charitable foundations adding the weight of their support.
“Government should provide the spark and the private sector should do the rest,” President Reagan said.
We at PBS Hawai‘i believe this is a good public-private partnership, centered on education, public safety and civic leadership. Last year, 9.5 percent of our revenues came from the federal investment.
Now comes the Trump Administration, signaling its intention to “privatize” – meaning de-fund – the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the private nonprofit that distributes funds to public media stations. Other Administration targets are the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As I write this, two weeks before publication, I’m getting ready to go to Washington, D.C. for a national public media summit, at which attendees will seek to determine President Trump’s plans. Is he really going to wage a battle against federal seed money for public broadcasting?
The public broadcasting community says the notion of eliminating the federal funding in its mission is “nothing new.” It points out that similar ideas have been “soundly rejected on a bipartisan basis.”
According to the industry publication Current, the chair of a key House Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), predicts that such a move would fail because “there is a strong constituency for public broadcasting in both the House and Senate.”
Indeed, strong bipartisan support usually results in an appropriation of about $1.35 per year per American. Still, leaders of public broadcasting say they must take funding threats seriously. They’re asking to talk with Administration officials, and station general managers from all over the country are taking their case to Capitol Hill.
PBS Hawai‘i’s Board of Directors already has written to Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegates.
However, America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) isn’t calling out and mobilizing citizens at this time. Without a fleshed-out proposal from the Trump Administration, leaders are monitoring the situation closely. We are urging viewers to register your support at protectmypublicmedia.org.
Aloha a hui hou,
General Managers of PBS stations across the country met last month for a strategy session, looking at what kind of programming is needed most in our country, and how to make the content more responsive and more interactive.
And in this election year of deep divisions and negativity, we compared notes on our television stations’ political debates and other forums. Longtime station managers remarked that they’d never seen so many local incumbents decline to appear with their challengers on live telecasts and live web streams.
“These incumbents have the money to create their own messages through advertising, and that’s what they’re doing instead,” said Tom Axtell, the head of Vegas PBS and a member of the PBS Board of Directors. Another GM noted that many candidates no longer feel obligated to appear alongside their competition because they can speak to the public through low-cost social media.
In Hawai‘i, we had our share of incumbents turning down participation in our weekly election forum on Insights on PBS Hawai‘i, noting scheduling conflicts. We know that candidates are busy, so we generally ask them early. And we realize that incumbents may not be terribly motivated to let their lesser-known competitors receive statewide air time.
In addition, incumbents from 34 Hawai‘i State House and Senate races faced no opposition from another major-party candidate.
We even had a challenger withdraw from a General Election forum. That was Honolulu Mayoral candidate and political veteran Charles Djou. His campaign contended that it had never committed to the forum. (Before the Primary Election, Djou did take part in our forum with incumbent Mayor Kirk Caldwell and former Mayor Peter Carlisle.)
The rebuffs by candidates in some major races had a silver lining, freeing up TV time for district races, especially outside Honolulu and beyond O‘ahu. Incumbents and challengers with different ideas sat down at the same table, engaging in some interesting, vigorous and respectful discussions.
Viewers could feel the fresh breeze of democracy. At its best, this civil discourse provided much-needed substance and helped voters make their choice at the polls.
As Communications Professor John Hart of Hawai‘i Pacific University commented in a Honolulu Civil Beat podcast with reporter Chad Blair last October 10: “I still believe [debates] are our best chance to see past the pseudo-events, the slick advertisements. When you hear someone talk for an hour, you get a sense of who they are.”
This public media organization wants to thank all of the election candidates who accepted our invitation to inform voters by answering viewer questions and taking part in civil discourse on Insights on PBS Hawai‘i.
A hui hou (until next time)…
My job is essentially to be a problem-solver. There’s certainly enough to reach for, as the fragmented worlds of media and education require more focus, more engagement, more depth, more context. And in this rapidly changing world, answers are a moving target.
But that’s not the toughest part of my job. As in other things in life, the simplest things can be the most difficult. And quite simply, it is very difficult to adequately express thanks.
Our unpaid Board of Directors and lean staff could spend most of the day writing thank-you letters or making calls – and it simply wouldn’t be enough to express the gratitude we feel here for what citizens are supporting.
After we lost our lease at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the people of Hawai‘i and several mainland-based charitable foundations with ties to Hawaii gave us more than $30 million to establish a modern stand-alone multimedia center on Nimitz Highway at the entrance to Sand Island, PBS Hawai‘i’s Clarence T.C. Ching Campus. This nonprofit now owns an acre of land and a two-story building, which (thankfully) came in on time and on budget.
And still, after building us a new house, some viewers thank us. Here’s an example, from a woman who wrote by hand: “I hope you don’t get tired of my thank-you notes but I gotta say how much it means to me to watch [PBS Hawai‘i].” Here’s another hand-written note: “PBS Hawai‘i is contributing to society. I want PBS to continue this way. That’s why I make my donation.”
See what I mean? With a heart full of gratitude, I want you to know that we are dedicated to making the most out of your gift of a new building and your support of programming. We want to raise the bar on our stories and in quality in all areas, including our events for adults and keiki. We want to “be there” for our state – all of it, not just metropolitan Oahu. We want to be trusted for fairness and accuracy. And when we make mistakes, we want to own up and do better. Maybe that’s the best way to convey our thanks.
Also, we’re offering all the thousands of building donors a guided tour of the television station. Next month, after we complete technical troubleshooting, install a photovoltaic energy system and add donor signage, we’ll have an opening ceremony. But because of space concerns, we can’t invite all who made the building possible. So we invite NEW HOME donors to arrange a personal tour, now or later, by calling Christina Sumida at (808) 462-5045. Quite simply, we’d like to thank you in person.
Other programming are in progress during this time.
Where can I watch PBS Hawai‘i programming?
View our comprehensive list of broadcast, cable and satellite channels on our Where to Watch Us page.
Who owns PBS Hawai‘i?
PBS Hawai‘i, a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member station, is a community-supported public television station licensed to the Hawai‘i Public Television Foundation. A 20 – 25 member volunteer Board of Directors made up of Hawai‘i citizens directs the policies carried out by PBS Hawai‘i’s staff and volunteers.
Where does PBS Hawai‘i get its operating funds?
PBS Hawai‘i relies in large part upon contributions from individual viewers and support from local businesses and charitable foundations. We also qualify for grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and receive 1% of proceeds from the cable franchise fee.
What is the biggest financial challenge facing PBS Hawai‘i?
PBS Hawai‘i faces the constant challenge of upgrading aging equipment and facilities. Additionally, costs to acquire and broadcast our quality programming have risen substantially over the past few years. Unlike commercial stations, one of the largest sources of our revenue is our individual supporters, who help ensure that we can afford the $1.6 million it costs to purchase and air new shows each year.
Why is PBS Hawai‘i worthy of support?
As a non-profit organization, PBS Hawai‘i is truly Hawai‘i’s community station. First, no other station offers you the breadth and depth of programming that PBS Hawai‘i does. Second, no other station offers you the quality of programming that PBS Hawai‘i does, and lastly, no other station showcases the arts and talents of all people or highlights the concern of communities here in Hawai‘i, across the country, and around the world. PBS Hawaii doesn’t create programs to make money, we raise money to create meaningful programs for you and all the people of Hawai‘i. PBS Hawai‘i is the only locally owned TV broadcaster in the State of Hawai‘i.
Why did you replace my favorite program?
We receive our programs from a wide range of sources, including satellite delivery and local production in our own facility. On rare occasions these services may fail to deliver a needed program in time for its broadcast or the program received is not broadcast quality. Consequently, it may necessitate changes to our schedule. Whenever possible, we do make every effort to alert viewers and inform them if and when the show will be rescheduled through our program guide, here on our website, Facebook and Twitter.