Jan 13, 2010

Kerger criticizes commercial TV children's programming

In kids' programming on commercial networks, "The line between commerce and content are blurred beyond recognition. . . . Advertising is so thoroughly embedded into the content," PBS President Paula Kerger told reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, continuing this week in Pasadena, Calif. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Kerger said she welcomes an upcoming FCC review of the 1990 Children's Television Act, which requires that stations run a minimum of three hours of educational programming weekly.

PBS's Kerger says one night per week will be all arts programming

PBS President Paula Kerger announced details of PBS's long-planned arts initiative at a Town Hall Los Angeles meeting yesterday, according to the website for Miller McCune, an academic news firm. The effort includes a shift in the primetime schedule to allow for one evening per week devoted entirely to the arts, beginning probably next fall or winter; an online arts portal on coming in April; and new materials for the PBS Teachers website to help them better incorporate arts into their classrooms. "To be candid, over the last years, we haven't done as good a job [with cultural programming] as we could," Kerger told the audience. "I think we can do more. We're looking to increase the investment we're making in the arts. The budget (for such programs) has been flat or slightly down. I want to ramp it up." The story noted: "PBS's cultural programming — which is expensive to produce and doesn't necessarily draw the largest viewership — has gradually become marginalized." And, Kerger said, the shows are usually "strewn about" on station schedules. PBS has already has a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the website. John Boland, PBS chief content officer, told Current last May that PBS will seek funding of $15 million over three years.

PBS to unveil new public affairs series from WNET

Update, Friday, Jan. 15: WNET will discontinue two other public affairs series, Expose and Wide Angle, while starting up production of Need to Know, the new Friday-night series announced by PBS this week, production chief Stephen Segaller told Current. Bill Moyers' Journal and Now will remain on the schedule until Need to Know begins in May, PBS President Paula Kerger said at the NETA Conference in Las Vegas yesterday.

The New York Times reported earlier that PBS has green-lit a new public affairs series from WNET. Need to Know, a one-hour show that launches in May, will originate from the New York station's new studios in Lincoln Center. It replaces Bill Moyers Journal and Now, two series that go off the air in April. PBS will formally announce the new show, as well as its plan to create a new Web portal for its news and public affairs content, during the Television Critics Association Press Tour today.