NPR Chooses Culver City Site for West Coast Facility

Media
by Claudia Peschiutta

National Public Radio is officially moving out West. The nonprofit network's board last week approved the purchase of a building at 9905-9909 Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City for the establishment of a West Coast production facility. The move puts to rest months of speculation about the site NPR would pick for its $12-million project, which has been slated to begin operation this year.

The facility, which will employ between 70 and 100 people, will allow NPR to expand its coverage by providing full-production quarters for generating original West Coast programming. "The Tavis Smiley Show," which went on the air last week, will be one of the shows produced here.

"It takes (NPR) out of the Beltway and into the future," said network board Chairman Jon Schwartz. "A lot of people view California...as the direction the country and the world is headed."

The project is being funded largely through corporate foundation grants approved earlier, Schwartz said.

No Peace for Pacifica

The problems that have for months kept Pacifica Radio Network's local station transmitting at one-fourth of its power appeared far from being solved last week.

Little was done to take care of the past-due bills of KPFK-FM (90.7) at the latest meeting of Pacifica's interim board, according to Station Manager Mark Schubb.

"They all acted like they were very concerned about it but I see nothing in place that's going to alleviate our financial problems," he said.

Carol Spooner, a member of the interim board, said the foundation could have $2.9 million in outstanding obligations at its five stations. An accounting firm has been hired to figure out Pacifica's financial mess before the end of the month.

"We don't know how much money we have," Spooner said. In the meantime, bills and payroll are being paid "as quickly as we can."

Turmoil within the Pacifica Foundation, which oversees the network's five stations, has disrupted KPFK's financial operations and halted the completion of the installation of two new transmitters. An overdue payment was also threatening the station's electrical service last week.

The station's main phone line was disconnected last week, because of an unpaid bill, Schubb said. KPFK this month began running announcements blaming the station's financial troubles on Pacifica.

LA Weekly Loses Publisher

The president and publisher of the LA Weekly announced last week he would be leaving the publication at the end of the month at the request of its owner, Village Voice Media.

Michael Sigman, an 18-year veteran of the Weekly, told employees in a memo: "I've been doing this job, in one form or another, for nearly 20 years, and (Village Voice Chief Executive David Schneiderman) has let me know that he feels it's time for a change." Sigman's last day is Jan. 25. A replacement had not been named, he said.

When questioned about why he was told to step down, Sigman said he didn't ask. He added that he was not planning to leave and said the move was unexpected.

Initiative CEO to Retire

The chairman and chief executive of Initiative Media Worldwide last week announced he would be retiring at the end of the month. The news came just days after Initiative Media in L.A. lost one of its most well-known accounts.

Speculation arose about Lou Schultz's future following the recent departure of Walt Disney Co. The Disney media-buying account, worth close to $500 million last year, had been held by Initiative for 15 years and helped build the firm's reputation. Schultz plans to serve as a consultant for Initiative.

"I will focus more energy on creating and building new communications opportunities for clients," Schultz, 58, said in a statement. "Last year was very difficult, but I am confident that Initiative Media is on a solid track to leap forward in 2002."

Schultz's retirement had nothing to do with the loss of the Disney account, said Initiative spokeswoman Patricia Kerr.

No replacement was named for Schultz.

Confusing.Com

The Web site for years known as the home of KCBS-TV Channel 2 is taking viewers to some unexpected destinations NBC station sites.

Channel2000.com, the URL formerly used by the station, recently became a site that offers links to six NBC stations in California, including competitor KNBC-TV Channel 4.

The switch comes after KCBS left Internet Broadcasting Systems Inc., a firm that manages Web sites for television stations, and KNBC and other NBC stations signed on. IBS owns the Channel2000.com URL.

"It was within their right to do that," said David Woodcock, vice president and general manager of KCBS. "(But) I would have preferred they not redirect it."



Staff reporter Claudia Peschiutta can be reached at (323) 549-5225 ext. 229 or at cpeschiutta@labusinessjournal.com.

E Going Global:

E Networks is launching an international, English-language network to bring Hollywood into homes throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

E International Network, set to launch by the end of the first quarter, will offer programming similar to that seen in the U.S. on E Entertainment Television but its line-up will be adjusted for overseas consumption.

"We are very carefully looking at censorship regulations," said Kevin MacLellan, senior vice president of international for E Networks. "(The programming) might be a little bit toned-down."

While officials would not disclose financial figures for the venture, the new network will greatly benefit from having access to E Networks' large library of programming, much of which has already been cleared to run in multiple international markets.

E Networks wants to begin offering the international network in multiple languages by 2003.

Claudia Peschiutta

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.