MPT planning a nightly half-hour news program

April 10, 1997|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Maryland Public Television is developing a nightly half-hour news show, set to debut in September, that will concentrate on in-depth analysis and discussion of issues important to Marylanders.

"Maryland Edition," the exact format of which is still being worked out at MPT's Baltimore County headquarters, is one of eight initiatives announced yesterday by Robert J. Shuman, who was named the station's president and chief executive officer in October, and David H. Nevins, chairman of the Maryland Public Broadcasting Commission.

"Our politicians don't have the advantage, in broadcast television, to do much more than the sound bites," Shuman said during a meeting in his Owings Mills office yesterday. "We think that important issues should be discussed in depth."

While acknowledging that such in-depth analysis might never attract the number of viewers who watch programs on the network affiliates, Shuman dismissed that as a concern. MPT, he said, has a responsibility "to help develop a more informed citizenry about issues."

In addition to "Maryland Edition," which Shuman said is being modeled after the popular "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," the other initiatives announced at a news conference last night include:

A series of electronic "town meetings," in which viewers will be able to question government officials and policy makers via telephone or e-mail. The first of those, "Highlights of the '97 Maryland General Assembly -- Two Views," aired last night. With MPT's Jeff Salkin as moderator, the two-hour broadcast allowed Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and other legislators to discuss the just-concluded session with journalists and respond to questions from the public.

Plans for a downtown Baltimore studio, as part of the Port Discovery children's museum set to open in November 1998 inside the Fishmarket on Market Place, with exhibits created by Disney. The studio would give MPT a long-talked-about presence downtown, allowing it to broadcast town meetings and other programs from Maryland's largest city.

A new microwave truck that will allow MPT to broadcast from all over Maryland.

Two MPT productions that will be available for broadcast nationwide: "Boatworks," a 13-part series debuting at 5: 30 p.m. Saturday, with Robert Urich as host, which will offer tales of life on the water from the Chesapeake Bay to the Bahamas; and "Health-week," debuting at 11 a.m. May 4 with CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson as host, showcasing the region's health-care resources.

"A Picasso Electronic Fieldtrip," scheduled for 9 a.m. May 22, which will offer students throughout Maryland the chance to visit the "Picasso: The Early Years" exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. MPT has also scheduled several other children's shows throughout the month.

An internship program with Towson State University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, as part of the schools' telecommunications programs.

Maryland Techno-V.A.N. (Technology Volunteers for Access and Networking), a computer center on wheels that will travel the state, offering training and information technology.

Pub Date: 4/10/97

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