I'm not sure what kind of things we should be posting, but I came back from vacation to find that a reporter from NC's PBS station had 200 hours of tape she shot for a documentary on a corporate polluter subpoenaed by our legislature. They watched a rough cut of her documentary (that the station is distancing itself from) in Senate Chambers before it aired.

What's worse, is that because UNC-TV is considered a state agency (who knew? They're governed by the Board of Governors which runs the university system here), the same tapes are considered public record and are being demanded by said corporation (Alcoa Aluminum) in a Public Records Request. If allowed, the corporation will see and hear everything the reporter recorded.

NC even has a shield law to protect reporters from this sort of thing, but because the PBS station is a State Agency, it matters not.

Here's a link:http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/07/10/573771/alcoa-wants-files-fro...

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Comment by Mark Barroso on August 7, 2010 at 12:01am
No, I didn't. Thanks, Tracy. I'm going to post it on d-word, too.
Comment by Tracy Heather Strain on August 6, 2010 at 4:30pm
Did you see the Current article about this?

Comment by Alexa Elliott on August 6, 2010 at 12:31pm
Wow... this is pretty scary. Prior to my current position I worked for two stations that were licensed to state universities. I don't recall anyone working at either station ever encountering this problem. I have noticed however, that my old co--workers now have a disclaimer at the bottom of their emails stating that the content of messages is public record.
Comment by Anna Rau on July 19, 2010 at 11:39am
This is a real concern for me too. I produce investigative docs for Montana PBS that tend to rile corporations and the political establishment. My Executive Producer makes sure all the raw dollars for my docs come from viewer donations, NOT from state money. Our license is held by the University of Montana. I find it hard to believe they can force this station to turn over the raw footage with the idea that the station is a public agency and what they do is public record. The people who produced this footage are not elected by voters. I'm assuming the station manager is not elected by the public. Where does it stop? Can the corporation exercise prior restraint to stop them from broadcasting the finished program? I think there needs to be a special exemption in every state to allow shield laws to protect Public Broadcasting Producers and Reporters - to treat them as journalists. Until then, it seems using viewer donations to fund controversial programs, instead of state or federal money, is a way around this snafu. How does Frontline handle this?
Comment by Garland McLaurin on July 17, 2010 at 10:08am
Man that's crazy Mark.
Comment by Kathryn A. Rodenmeyer on July 16, 2010 at 4:18pm
Thanks for posting. I'd be interested to know what the outcome is. Mississippi Public Broadcasting is also a state agency, and politics always has had a hand in it.
Comment by Colin Powers on July 16, 2010 at 4:05pm
State network or no, Joe Berlinger's predicamentthreatens all of us -- whether we're independent or work at stand-alone PBS stations. Scary indeed.
Comment by Bob Szuter on July 16, 2010 at 2:56pm

Thanks for posting; I find this very relevant, as I work at a PBS station that is a state agency too. I was glad to see this and forwarded to a fellow producer who just happens to be doing a long-format doc on a similar issue, with similar players (wealthy polluters with teams of lawyers).

Sidebar on my station, NJN: The new Gov in NJ is attempting to zero out our funding and give NJN to a private group (the assets will survive in private hands, but not the tv people -- we'll likely all be gone) ... but that's a different story. If we continue with the State holding the license, this information you've posted is a tactic my colleagues should be ready to face.
Comment by Mark Barroso on July 12, 2010 at 5:18pm
Great question. I've never heard of this before. I imagine it varies from state to state; if the station is governed by a public body (like a university); and if the legislature ever created an exemption in the public records law for their television stations.
Comment by Judith Vecchione on July 12, 2010 at 4:38pm
Is this particular to NC or is it true for any state public broadcaster?

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