Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Alabama Public Television Executive Director Allan Pizzato & CFO Fired, Frog-Marched & Escorted Out Of Building

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, June 15, 2012

There’s no love lost for Pizzato’s firing. I’m glad he’s gone.

He’s been nothing but a hindrance to progress and albatross about the neck of Alabama Public Television (APTV) from the time of his hiring. He cut Alabama‘s ONLY STATEWIDE NEWS program “For the Record,” and turned it into a puff piece for politicians and their ilk, then watching it flicker like a candle in the wind, morphed it into some other idiotic nonsense piece of garbage called “Capitol Journal,” which flame eventually burned out.

But hard-hitting interviews had long been gone when long-time news anchor Tim Lennox received a phone call that informed him – while he was out of state on bereavement leave – that he was fired. Yeah… fired over the telephone. No letter, no face-to-face, man-to-man talk. Cowards. When APTV fired Lennox, that was the end of FTR. No more tough questions… softball puff pieces only.

Now perhaps the network can begin to reclaim some of their glory. APTV was the nation’s FIRST public television network. Now, it’s a shadow of a shell of it’s former self. How tragic that Alabama starts with greatness, and ends in a sewer… like the incompetent thieves governing Jefferson County.

My estimation is this entire ordeal is a ruse and a fine excuse to fire Pizzato for his active destruction of APTV.

Regarding Barton’s myopic organization Wall Builders, they’re freaks of nature, as well, who have an unfeigned agenda that has nothing to do with history. They want their brand of Christianity put into every classroom in America. In essence, they want state-supported religion.

Here’s hoping the Alabama Educational Television Commission will hire someone worth their salt who can actually PROMOTE, MANAGE and OPERATE the APTV network as it should be – a cutting-edge, profitable, award-winning, nationally & internationally respected state-run television network, because…

It once was.

Exclusive: Dismissals at Alabama PTV linked to concerns over proposed broadcast of videos from religious right

http://currentpublicmedia.blogspot.com/2012/06/exclusive-two-alabama-ptv-firings.html

Jun 13, 2012

Two top managers at Alabama Public Televisionwere fired from their jobs June 12 with no explanation of the cause for the immediate dismissals.

The Alabama Educational Television Commission came out of an executive session Tuesday afternoon and ordered veteran pubcaster Allan Pizzato and his deputy Pauline Howland to clean out their desks and leave APT’s headquarters in Birmingham.

“All I can say is that it was

an irreconcilable difference in opinion of the future direction of the station,” Pizzato told Current. “I serve at the pleasure of the board. They want to take it in a different direction, and that’s up to them.”

Pizzato had served 12 years as executive director of APT, a statewide network governed by a board of seven political appointees.

Howland, deputy director and chief financial officer, described the firings in an interview with Current and said she was “baffled” by the dismissals. But she also recalled how Pizzato had asked staff in April for advice about a series of videos that AETC commissioners wanted APT to air.

The videos featured David Barton, an evangelical minister and conservative activist whose publications and media appearances promote his theories about the religious intentions of America’s founders. He frequently appears on political commentary programs hosted by conservative Glenn Beck.

The American Heritage Series, a 10-part DVD series offered by Barton’s Texas-based organization WallBuilders LLC, “presents America’s forgotten history and heroes, emphasizing the moral, religious and constitutional foundation on which America was built.” Christian broadcast networks Cornerstone Television and Trinity Broadcasting Networks air the series, according to the website.

AETC Commissioner Rodney Herring, an Opelika-based chiropractor, had provided the series to APT for broadcast consideration. Herring joined the commission last year and was elected board secretary in January. As of late Wednesday evening, Herring did not return a voice message from Current.

AETC commissioners serve staggered 10-year terms, a provision that was intended to protect the state network from political meddling, said former APT director Skip Hinton, who now heads the National Educational Telecommunications Association. Each commissioner represents one of Alabama’s seven congressional districts. Alabama’s governor nominates commissioners and the state Senate approves the appointments.

Herring was appointed by former Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, in early 2011, according to Howland.

She participated in the staff review of Barton’s series. The programs “talked about how our government forefathers were very religious men,” Howland said, “how the country was founded on religious principles, and how we need to go back to that.” The content “was very much advocating that position,” she said.

Pizzato and his staff had “grave concerns” that the videos were inappropriate for public broadcasting due to their religious nature, Howland said.

Pizzato declined to discuss the videos, or how he responded to the commission’s request that APT schedule them for broadcast.

The commissioners had planned to discuss broadcast of Barton’s series at the end of their meeting, but dropped the agenda item after firing both directors, Howland said.

“It’s our job to protect the license,” Howland said, “and provide the best advice we can to the commission, whose members are usually not broadcasters.”

APT is among the public TV networks that have taken big hits in state funding during the recession. Its state appropriation has dropped 50 percent since 2008. Last summer APT shut its state capital bureau, suspended production of its political roundtable, Capitol Journal, and laid off 19 staffers. APT also scaled back operations at its Huntsville station and ended production of its music series, We Have Signal. A revamped Capitol Journal returned in January 2012. — Dru Sefton

Alabama Public Television executives fired abruptly after pressure to change programming

Avatar of %s June 13, 2012, By , Editor of new media, Weld for Birmingham
Allan Pizzato

APTV Executive Director Allan Pizzato was fired Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

The Alabama Educational Television Commission abruptly have fired two veteran executives at Alabama Public Television this week with as yet no explanation for the staff changes, the public media blog Current reports.

Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told Weld on Tuesday that APTV executive director Allan Pizzato and chief financial officer Pauline Howland were ordered to clean out their desks and escorted from the building on Tuesday, and the two executives were not allowed to speak to staff or explain the change on the premises. The sources requested anonymity because they are not authorized to make public statements about APTV’s internal affairs.

Speaking to Current, Pizzato said that his departure was the result of a difference of opinion of the public television network’s future.

“I serve at the pleasure of the board,” Pizzato told Current. “They want to take it in a different direction, and that’s up to them.”

In recent months, APTV has been pressured by members of the commission to air programing produced by David Barton, a Texas evangelist. Barton’s organization, Wall Builders, has produced a series of videos promoting a religious conservative view of American History. The Wall Builders website explains its purpose is to promote Christian religious values.

WallBuilders’ goal is to exert a direct and positive influence in government, education, and the family by (1) educating the nation concerning the Godly foundation of our country; (2) providing information to federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies which reflect Biblical values; and (3) encouraging Christians to be involved in the civic arena.

Howland told Current that APTV staff worried that religious programing was not appropriate for a public broadcasting and could jeopardize APTV’s public broadcast license.

The commissioners had planned to discuss broadcast of Barton’s series at the end of their meeting, but dropped the agenda item after firing the managers, Howland said.

“It’s our job to protect the license,” Howland said, “and provide the best advice we can to the commission, whose members are usually not broadcasters.”

Pizzato had served as executive director of APTV for 12 years before his termination, and last year the Birmingham Business Journal awarded him the 2011 CEO Award for Nonprofit Businesses.

http://weldbham.com/secondfront/2012/06/13/alabama-public-television-executives-fired-abruptly-after-pressure-to-change-programming/

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16 Responses to “Alabama Public Television Executive Director Allan Pizzato & CFO Fired, Frog-Marched & Escorted Out Of Building”

  1. Lori Cummings said

    I agree…and glad he is gone too: Here was not let go because of the series:

    J Chris Cochran (friends with Hank Sanders) commented on a link:
    J Chris wrote: “Don’t know if this is any help but… Rodney Herring returned my call from his office in Opelika. He seemed polite and responsive to my questions. He stated that the “managerial decision” (i.e., the discussions as to whether they would terminate Allen Pizzato and Pauline Howland) was placed on the board’s agenda ahead of Pizzato’s response as to whether APT would air “Wall-builders,” a controversial pseudo-historical series featuring David Barton, an evangelical minister and conservative activist who consistently promotes his revisionist theories about the religious/Christian intentions of America’s founders. Herring claims that, based on the board’s pre-set agenda and the subsequent timing of the board’s decision to terminate Pizzato and Howland, he did not know that Pizzazo had refused to air the Wall-builders series out of a concern that airing it would violate APT’s charter. Herring, a Republican Party official and GOP donor, did not deny submitting the controversial series for broadcasting consideration; he did, however, flatly deny that the decision to terminate Pizzato and Howland was based on their decision not to air the Wall-builder’s series, stating instead that the decision to terminate Pizzato and “the other employee” was simply a “change in direction in management.” Herring stated that the 7 member board “voted 5 to 2 to make the change.” Herring added that “Ferris [Stephens] would be the best person [on the Board] to articulate the various reasons for the desired change in management.” Herring concluded by stating that the employees “were thanked for their service” but that “you can’t do all things for all people.””

    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Lori! Thanks SO VERY MUCH for your comments! I am very much indebted to you for sharing that. I miss you, Tim, Jon (may he rest in peace, and his memory be blessed) and the whole gang! You guys where the best news team – BAR NONE!

    • Daniel Bailey said

      Lori failed to note that she is a former APT employee whose contract was not renewed. In other words, she’s a disgrunteled former employee. The minutes of the AETC meetings have been released by WBHM on their website if anybody wants to read the facts of the matter.

      • Warm Southern Breeze said

        Hi Daniel! Thanks for your readership and for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I’m aware that Lori is a former employee, as are many others. However, to characterize her as “disgruntled” is hardly honest. And yes, I’m aware the minutes of the AETC have been released by WBHM. My rhetorical question is this: “Why didn’t AETC voluntarily release the minutes of their own volition? Why were they requested to do so? If they truly are a public entity, they are subject to the same “Sunshine Law” as every other publicly funded organization.” Just some food for thought.

  2. Southern Gal said

    Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland are no heroes. They were blowing through Alabama Public Television’s money long before the economy tanked. Then, they abolished a long revered robust statewide news show. The reason? As Pizzato told the staff, he made the decision after “consulting” with the “guys” at his Kiwanis club in a recent meeting, where he says he was told to cancel it. Seriously?! “My Kiwanis Club made me do it (?!)” Years earlier, he refused to air a national show that featured a gay character. The reason? As he told the national media, airing a show with a gay person was as bad as telling a kid there was no Santa Claus! Pizzato and Howland weren’t fired over some gospel show. They had no sense of culture or public interest. They were BAD stewards of our public money and trust. Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland are no heroes. They are buffoons.

    • Southern Gal said

      P.S. Please note that Pizzato was pandering TO conservatives by refusing to air the show with the gay character. That’s important to remember in the context of current events. Ironic, huh?

    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi! Thanks for writing! I’ve contended that the mention of David Barton & Wall Builders is a smoke screen… a distractor, and had absolutely NOTHING to do with Pizzato & Howland’s firings. I’m glad to read your remarks. I’ve been delaying additional commentary because – I believe – the poop is about to hit the fan. Already, there are numerous voices all astir, many of which have fallen hook, line & sinker for the Barton brew-hah-ha. But, as you wrote, “They {Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland} were blowing through Alabama Public Television’s money long before the economy tanked.”

      Here’s a little-mentioned issue about AETV/APTV: Why did they need a presence in Washington, D.C.? Shut down the Montgomery bureau and presence, and establish a presence in a phenomenally expensive city that has little or nothing to do with the mission of AETV/APTV?

      C’mon folks… this is simple math. It’s not calculus.

    • Daniel Bailey said

      This post is slanderous and untrue. The minutes of the AETC meetings are open to the public and available at WBHM’s website for those who want to know the truth.

      • Warm Southern Breeze said

        Hi Dan! Thanks again for your readership, and for your response. However, I wholeheartedly disagree with your assertion. And, if my opinion is “slanderous” (I believe the proper term would be “libel,” for slander is spoken, whereas libel is printed) – it is opinion, after all – I welcome any attempt to so seek correction or redress. Additional thoughts and opinions are forthcoming to your other responses (which I believe would be termed “opinions” also). Thanks!

  3. Lori Cummings said

    http://www.wbhm.org/News/2012/APTdocuments.html Here are the minutes to the meeting…nothing at all about the Series when they were let go…

    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Thanks Lori! You’re a gem!

    • Daniel Bailey said

      The Minutes plainly show that Pizzato offered a compromise to the AETC — a program about creationism that was suitable for educational television. He was promptly fired after that. Herring had threatened at the last minute that Pizzato would go if he didn’t broadcast the Barton series.

      • Warm Southern Breeze said

        Hi Dan! In response to your assertion, what I’d like to know is this: Besides, or in addition to yourself, who can verify and validate your claim that “Herring had threatened at the last minute that Pizzato would go if he didn’t broadcast the Barton series”?

        And, if you would please, I’d be interested in knowing your thoughts about this comment from another reader: “Allan Pizzato and Pauline Howland are no heroes. They were blowing through Alabama Public Television’s money long before the economy tanked. Then, they abolished a long revered robust statewide news show.”

        Thanks, and I look forward to your reply!

  4. […] Alabama Public Television Executive Director Allan Pizzato & CFO Fired, Frog-Marched & Escor… (warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com) […]

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