Alabama Public Television has long been one of the bright spots in a sea of commercial programming that often caters to the lowest common denominator. Offering programs that appeal to a better-educated, more inquisitive audience, APTV shows are provocative without being preachy, diverse rather than dogmatic and entertaining without resorting to sophomoric humor.
If this is not what you want on TV, viewers have plenty of options. But for many, APTV is a refuge from the shallow.
Now, according to a letter sent to Gov. Robert Bentley by APTV’s chief operating officer, Charles Grantham, Bentley may be the governor under whom public TV in Alabama “died an untimely death.”
In a recent editorial, this page commented on the firing of APTV director Allan Pizzato and deputy director Pauline Howland because, according to Pizzato, there was an “irreconcilable difference in opinion of the future direction of the station.”
At that time, we reported that sources within the APTV family believe the two were terminated because they opposed the showing of The American Heritage Series, which was produced by the evangelical group WallBuilders, a series that promotes the “Christian nation” interpretation of American history. Pizzato reportedly had “grave concerns” that the religious message in the programs might violate the station’s broadcast license.
Was that the case? If so, what connection do the firings have to the subsequent resignation of three of the five members of the Alabama Educational Television Foundation Authority, the group that raises money for APTV?
We may soon find out. A hearing is scheduled for this week in Birmingham Circuit Court to consider Pizzato’s contention that the commission that fired him violated Alabama’s open-meeting law.
All this page can say at this point is that the commission did not inform the public that supports public television of the reasons for the firings. Maybe now, in court and under oath, those involved will tell the public what it has a right to know.