Click HERE
for Media
Issues Links
home page


Chicago Television Channel 11 -- WTTW

chain
(Revised 2004-10-23d)



THE ISSUES:
  • Issue: The board and managers of Window To The World Communications, Incorporated (WWCI) do not have working people's values! (Read CMA's report "Elites, Affluence, and Advertising!" and please send a CMA easy response email!)
  • Issue: There are no television forums with local working class leaders!
  • Issue: For-profit corporations determine the programming! And there is advertising!
  • Issue: "NOW with Bill Moyers" has been put in bad time slots!
  • Issue: The Community Advisory Board required by law is manipulated and ignored!
  • Issue: Public money and donations are mismanaged!
Click HERE for general information about WWCI's use of Chicago's Channel #11.




Issue: The board and managers of Window To The World Communications, Incorporated (WWCI) do not have working people's values!
  • CMA has authored a new study showing how this affects WTTW's main program. Read our nationally-acclaimed report "Chicago Tonight: Elites, Affluence, and Advertising."

  • Please send a CMA easy response email! --

    Chicago Media Action's coalition has sent an important OPEN LETTER WITH 4 DEMANDS to Board of Trustees chairman Sandra Polk Guthman. Our demands are for firing WTTW chief executive Dan Schmidt; an audit; live town hall forums and other new programs for underserved communities; a trust fund to separate program content from advertisers' influence; and public elections for the Board of Trustees.

    1. Action: EMAIL. Use the easy CMA Rapid Response form for emailing Ms. Guthman. The form has a sample message that is fully editable. To jump to the Rapid Response form's page now, CLICK HERE

    2. Action: TELEPHONE. And please telephone Ms. Guthman's office, (312) 527-4684, to leave a message that you 'support the four Chicago Media Action demands.'

  • A self-appointing board of major corporations' representatives, some lawyers, other wealthy individuals, and a few academics now simply entrust station operations and policies to a hired chief executive officer. Dan Schmidt, the current CEO, uses commercial television as his model. Advertisers control what is programmed. Program content is designed for certain desirable 'demographics'. Executive salaries are extreme. Public broadcasting's special mission is abandoned and expectations are distorted for the Chicago area public, other PBS cities' stations, FCC regulators, and legislators.

  • The Board of Trustees' other jobs show just who controls WWCI (Boeing, the biggest banks, Sara Lee, wealthy individuals, ...). WWCI's web site wttw.com lists the current board, but without their credentials or contact information.

  • A radical analysis shows the relationship between the board's power and the programs that are broadcast.

  • The last available WWCI IRS Form 990 (This is a huge, 39 page, 928KB .pdf file) shows financial and board details (page 32) reported for '11/2/01'.

Issue: There are no television forums with local working class leaders!


Forums update: Acclaimed documentaries continue to be refused as lead-in material for forums. The total is now eight excellent documentaries that we have brought to the station for previewing. All have been turned down! The most recent was "Aftermath: Unanswered Questions From 9/11."

WWCI stalled negotiations and does not respond to our professional proposal for town hall forums! The 4/25/03 rationale: With the war over, there is no point because you need a raging issue to attract viewers. Besides, "Chicago Tonight" already covers the issues proposed for forums.

CMA plans to take the matter to the Board of Trustees. Some may think that these directors of Window To The World Communications, Incorporated, (WWCI) have just an honorific or fundraising role. But they are fully responsible to the public by law for Chicago's channel #11 broadcast license, and for hiring Daniel Schmidt as CEO to manage the station. CMA is taking action. See the Board of Trustees issue on this page.

Issue: For-profit corporations determine the programming! And there is advertising!
  • For-profit corporations sponsor highly-promoted expensive series (but labor organizations are not allowed to sponsor shows because they are seen as 'special interests'). Commercial products, polished public relations images, and world views are promoted for specific companies, even using cartoon characters and child-voice announcers to influence our very young children. WWCI and PBS turn our government funds, viewer donations, tax breaks for charity, programming opportunities, and precious broadcast licenses into subsidies for 'underwriter' corporations.

    And local nonprofit interests are told they cannot propose programs because they would first need to find new sponsors since the current support funds are already committed. WWCI got $10 million to create "CEO Exchange" a national series of fawning interviews of certain corporations' cheif executives. And it has created several new series since it told us there was no money for any new shows. But WWCI says it cannot find a few thousand dollars for modest town hall forums with Chicagoans discussing issues such as going to war in Iraq!

  • Public television license abuse. Channel #11 in Chicago is reserved for public television usage, but the directors and their managers have rapidly turned it into commercial broadcasting to benefit their own corporations and other big advertisers. Cf. the WTTW's advertisers' kitand our report "Chicago Tonight: Elites, Affluence, and Advertisers."

  • Not-for-profit incorporation IRS fraud: The directors conspire to hire and direct managers to use a nonprofit corporation specifically to promote profits for the directors' companies. Cf. the WTTW's advertisers' kit and the CMA report "Chicago Tonight: Elites, Affluence, and Advertisers." Some WWCI board members who place for-profit advertising on WTTW are (LaSalle Bank), (Boeing Company), (Sara Lee Corporation), and ( Hospital Corporation) [list under development]. So, public donations and foundation grants are being used in support of the directors' commercial purposes.

  • Immediately after scandal-laden Boeing Company moved its world headquarters to Chicago, the WWCI Trustees elected a Boeing vice president to join them. Now Boeing underwrites and is advertised on "GLOBAL CHICAGO" segments of "Chicago Tonight." Boeing's planetwide sales of weapons and military and commercial transportation systems are worth billions more if the public is dissuaded from requiring limits on 'free trade.' The well-produced tv segments are to educate the public about chosen Chicago area interests in global matters. (We might have expected that journalistic self-respect, if not public broadcasting's special mission, would prevent WWCI from being more brazen even than commercial broadcasting in giving advertisers influence over news content. Since Boeing's pockets are the deepest there are, WTTW is clearing the way for more Boeing shows on WTTW and the entire PBS network.

  • The commercials on Channel 11 are not decreasing, but are again increasing in frequency, length, sales pitch level, interruptive placement, and relation to program subjects. WTTW is infamous for having been fined by the FCC in the past and explicitly warned to be careful not to violate 'enhanced underwriter acknowledgment' (advertisement) limitations any more!

    WWCI now has an advertising sales department, just like the commercial media. See WTTW's web page for advertisers.

  • Some important Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) issues are documented in F.A.I.R. research papers.

  • Citizens for Independent Public Broadcasting (CIPB) promotes making the commercial licensees of our broadcast frequencies now begin to pay license fees, in order to create a trust fund intended to support truly independent noncommercial programming.

Issue: "NOW with Bill Moyers" has been put in bad time slots!
  • WTTW's broadcasts have been on Sunday mornings (was 11 a.m., now Noon) and Monday mornings (4 a.m.). These are times when the potential audience is very small. Other cities' PBS stations broadcast "NOW" days sooner, and in prime time, and several times during the week. PBS provides promos that presume stations broadcast the show Fridays in prime-time.

    See NOW's PBS web site for pictures and transcripts from programs on topics such as U.S. war policies and world wide media monopolization. There have been many execllent shows about the media.


  • WWCI management ignores the Community Advisory Board's high regard for the Moyers show (CAB issues are also discussed on this page.)

Issue: The Community Advisory Board required by law is manipulated and ignored!
  • Overview.

  • Chairperson Durkin.

  • A recent appeal to the head of CPB to intervene has had some amazing effects. 1) The station is investigating the whistleblower. And 2) WTTW's CAB description has been carefully rewritten to make it seem more consequential. Still, the CAB seems to exist more to help management advise the public (about the station's achievements) than to advise management (about the public's needs and desires). The CAB is to work in support of WTTW management, and strictly through CAB Chairperson Durkin.
  • (Replacement of our sealed personal envelopes with the anti-CMA packet is not mentioned here, for space reasons and because chairman Eileen Durkin may be the only CAB person who even knew we had tried to send personal envelopes.)


    CMA To WTTW's Community Advisory Board -------------------------------------- Four CMAers (Karen Bond, Scott Sanders, Ron Kunde, and Bob Gallie) went to WTTW's Community Advisory Board meeting on December 9, 2003. We gave a 25 minute presentation of CMA's '4 demands' for fundamental WTTW reform. Note: Read about the demands and how you can easily help. Find the 'public television' topic and the rapid response email form at www.chicagomediaaction.org. CABs are required by law for public funding. WTTW's CAB, like most around the nation, is carefully constructed and managed, so it is a very tough crowd for reformers to work with. The general working class public that CMA is activating on media issues is much friendlier. Before our 'public comment' time, we saw the CAB vote down every recommendation to actually advise station management. (CAB gadfly Todd Wexman had proposed recommending that Bill Moyers' NOW be in Friday prime time, that local children's shows be produced, and that some new shows be based on ideas from CMA and environmentalists.) At the end we walked out when a CAB member said we were just wasting their time. CMA had never expected to convert the CAB. We had only hoped to try it out and to find some allies there. Some members of WTTW's CAB did seek us out afterwards for future contacts.

Issue: Public money and donations are being mismanaged!
General Information:

(Remember that the 'spin' and even the 'facts' must be challenged when companies entrusted with broadcast licenses describe their own operations.)
  • Channel 11 is worth fighting for.

  • Overview: The license for federally-enforced exclusive rights to broadcast on the 'Chicago-Gary Market Area" television channel #11, designated for noncommercial educational services, has been entrusted, with uninterrupted renewals, by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the private nonprofit corporation Window To The World Communications, Incorporated (WWCI, previously known as Chicago Educational Television Association, CETA).

  • WWCI's businesses, including WTTW-TV operations, WFMT-FM (using the Chicago area's 98.7FM frequency), television studio production services, classical and jazz satellite-distributed national programming services, and some publications and web sites are managed by a chief executive who is hired by, and presides over, an unelected board with a chairperson and other directors/trustees. WTTW participates in consortia that produce and distribute programs for national syndication, and is a major voice within the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) which gets Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) production funding. WWCI also gets some CPB money directly.

  • Channel 11's programming is mostly a selection of PBS national "public television" syndicated series. Many shows are directed to children. A link to the huge list of PBS series from which WTTW chooses is HERE. Certain local operations are now branded as "Network Chicago" with the local "Chicago Tonight" 'magazine' show getting more of the station's resources than art, food, news, or any other kind of program except advertiser-chosen programs. Huge amounts are spent on commercial-level executive salaries and cutting edge technology.

    You can examine the SCHEDULE FOR THIS MONTH. Use your browser's Find command to locate any show title. To see a past month, edit the URL address ending: "...&d=2003-10-01".) (Some people expect more 'business' shows to be launched soon. "La$alle $treet Week With La$alle Bank"? Meanwhile, station managers have told us all year that it would be very difficult to find funding for the new expenses that working class forums would cause.)

  • Window to the World Communications, Incorporated has its own web site at "www.networkchicago.com". The site has information about WTTW-TV, Network Chicago, and the other WWCI businesses.

  • "Chicago Tonight" (Some say 'Chicago Too Light') show descriptions by the producers for the current and past weeks are posted HERE. You can use your browser's Find command to search for specific words or phrases within the segments' descriptions.

  • Cf. U.S. license file details, FCC.
  • "A History of Democratic Reform Efforts to Improve Chicago Public Broadcasting" by CMA's Scott Sanders includes historic and current WTTW issues.

  • Mitchell Szczpanczyk has more articles on WTTW issues on his public tv page.

To get back to this 'Channel 11 -- WTTW' page anytime, set a favorites bookmark for Media Issues Links.
Send us email about this page.