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.”
Pizzarto 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.