Thinking Inside the Box

Breaking News: Our New Lineup

by Ellis Bromberg, General Manager of MPTV

Hi again, Ellis Bromberg with another video "Thinking Inside the Box."

You know, over the past year, we've done a series of town hall meetings in our broadcasting area -- the most recent one in March in Kenosha. We had a good turnout there, and folks had a number of questions: reception issues, where they could find our new multicast stations on cable, programs we could produce to better serve the Kenosha area, and much more.

When we hold these, I'm always impressed by how people have come to rely on public television -- Milwaukee Public Television -- for certain types of programs, programs you don't regularly, or in some cases, ever, find on commercial stations or cable networks: science programs, history, educational programs for children, British comedies and classic drama, the fine arts -- symphonies and dance and opera.

One of the areas that a lot of people look to us to cover is international and national news in-depth. I often get questions about our weekday block of news on Channel 36.1, and our Friday night lineup on Channel 10, as well. There were comments of appreciation at the Kenosha town hall meeting about both.

So I want to tell you about some changes we're making, partly due to viewer requests and partly due to necessity.

A popular program we've aired for several years, weekdays at 6 o'clock on Channel 36.1, WORLDFOCUS, is ending production; more about that in a moment. But its departure created a hole in our news lineup. To fill it, effective April 5, THE PBS NEWSHOUR has moved to 6 o'clock. Until about ten years ago, that was where the NEWSHOUR was shown, and throughout the years, we've been asked to reconsider moving the program back there. In fact, since we made the decision to move it back to 6, viewer response has been overwhelmingly positive.

With WORLDFOCUS gone, we really felt the need to offer a program with a focus on international news in that early evening lineup. BBC WORLD NEWS used to air there, but we were forced to drop it several years ago when the BBC withdrew rights to U.S. stations like us to run it early; it has continued to air at 10 o'clock, however. With the news about WORLDFOCUS, we asked the BBC whether we could return BBC WORLD NEWS to the early evening lineup. They said, yes, but no earlier than 7 p.m. Well, guess what: we now had a hole to fill at 7, and everything fell into place.

So here it is, the revised weekday lineup on Channel 36.1, effective April 5:

At 5:30, JOURNAL, a production of Germany's Deutsche Welle television, presents news and analysis with a unique European perspective. At 6, THE PBS NEWSHOUR, with its new format. At 7, the return of BBC WORLD NEWS, the latest global news from the world's largest news broadcaster. And finally at 7:30, THE NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, television's most-watched evening business news program.

Now, what's happening to the staff who have worked on WORLDFOCUS? Well, they will be working on a new Friday night program that will premiere on Channel 10 on May 7. It's called NEED TO KNOW, a new weekly public affairs program. It will be co-hosted by Newsweek editor Jon Meachem and Alison Stewart, she's formerly of National Public Radio.

NEED TO KNOW is going to replace BILL MOYERS JOURNAL and NOW ON PBS. Bill Moyers, a good friend at age 75, is retiring, and NOW ON PBS is ending production.

So look for NEED TO KNOW beginning May 7, and in the meantime, we hope you'll continue to join us every weekday beginning at 5:30 for our international and national news programming.

Of course, we're always interested in your opinion -- so drop us a line through the mail, or online, or give us a call. And I'll speak with you again next month.