The Alabama Educational Television Commission unanimously approved to hire the Birmingham law firm of Wallace, Jordan, Ratliff & Brandt LLC to represent the commission in a lawsuit. Commission members voted during a special/called meeting at Alabama Public Television headquarters earlier today.
The AETC is facing a lawsuit by former Alabama Public Television executive Allan Pizzato. The suit alleges the commission violated Alabama's open meetings law when they fired him in June. Some critics argue Pizzato and APT's chief financial officer Pauline Howland were fired for refusing to air a controversial history series by evangelical Christian activist David Barton.
But Commission Chairman Ferris Stephens says they simply want a new direction for the station.
"Every commissioner had their own reasons," says Stephens. "But I think it's very fair to say that generally everyone wanted a fresh and innovative approach to where the station is going."
Stephens says as of now, there's no plans to air Barton's program and there won't be any major changes to APT's programming.
"It will still be PBS programming. Everybody's shows that they like will still be on. Down the road there may be some innovative programming. But right now there is none."
Stephens says the commission is conducting a nationwide search for Pizzato's replacement.
Disclaimer: Alabama Public Radio is not an affiliate of Alabama Public Television.