PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger 2011 TCA Press Tour Remarks


Paula Kerger, President and CEO, PBS January 8th, 2011

Good morning, I’m Paula Kerger, president of PBS.

Thank you for attending our portion of the winter press tour.

I look forward to answering your questions, but first I want to share some thoughts about this moment in the life of our nation, and what it means for public media.

Our country is facing challenging economic times right now and many American families are continuing to struggle.

At PBS, we are not immune to the economy, and we continue to work efficiently to ensure that we can deliver the free, high quality content that Americans rely on us to provide:

We provide the content that guides children on their explorations, the documentaries that open up new worlds for viewers of all ages, the arts and culture programs that reflect America’s diversity, and the news and public affairs shows that keep people informed about world events. 

I’m extremely proud that for the seventh consecutive year the public has named PBS the nation’s most-trusted institution, according to the annual Roper poll.

People trust us to give them the tools they need to improve their lives, and expose them to ideas and information they wouldn’t otherwise access.

That’s why I’m particularly excited about some of the programs we are showcasing this weekend.

For forty years, Masterpiece has brought the best drama to American audiences.

Last season, Masterpiece debuted the extremely popular new Sherlock series, garnering a 2.9 national household rating.

This season, new episodes of Upstairs/Downstairs and the new Aurelio Zen mystery series will ensure that Masterpiece will continue to deliver fresh, exciting stories to viewers.

We are also exploring new philanthropic models beyond sponsorship like the frontline fund, private sector individuals, and foundations to tie people more closely to our content.

You'll hear more about Masterpiece's efforts on this front during their session later today.

Jeff Bridges, AMERICAN MASTERS "THE DUDE ABIDES" The award-winning American Masters series, hailed by The Baltimore Sun as “one of the greatest cultural storytelling franchises in American life,” will kick off its 25th season this month with Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides.

Our unique focus on the arts doesn’t stop there.

This season, viewers will meet the extraordinary Placido Domingo and the charming Harry Connick Jr., on Great Performances.

And we’ll continue to offer the kind of documentary programming from Independent Lens and POV that is only available on PBS.

We are dedicated to helping people understand the world that they live in.

In that vein, we’ll continue to invest in our award winning news and science programs like Newshour, Frontline, and NOVA, as well as thoughtful discourse with Tavis Smiley and Charlie Rose.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. We’ll also take an in-depth look at our world with “Black in Latin America” and “Freedom Riders.”

And we’ll continue to lead the way in producing entertaining, educational media content for children.

We are the only source for media content that is created solely to teach and inspire kids, not turn them into consumers.

This fall PBS KIDS celebrated strong ratings, occupying four of the top ten spots in children’s programming among kids 2 – 5 on weekdays for September, October and November 2010, according to Nielsen ratings.

In November Curious George: Follow that Monkey garnered a national rating of 7.3 among kids 2-5 during the week of November 22nd.

But we have more than ratings to prove that we are the experts in using the power of media to educate our children.

For the 13th consecutive year, PBS earned more Daytime Emmy awards for its children’s programming than any other broadcast or cable network.

This fall, we announced that we would once again partner with the Department of Education and expand our work from early childhood literacy to math in order to ensure that kids ages 2-8 also learn basic math skills.

We’re going to do this across multiple platforms, because we recognize the power of new technology to deliver real educational benefits to children.  

Our multi-platform approach isn’t just limited to our children’s media.

Across the board, we are committed to ensuring that our audience can access our offerings across many platforms.

Today, we are debuting a new PBS App for the iPhone and an Antiques Roadshow App for both the iPad and the iPhone.

We’re following up on our successful PBS for iPad App, which reached #1 in the iTunes Store for free apps within the first 24 hours of its release in October.

PBS for iPad There are press releases on your table that give you the details about these apps.

Whether it’s on the computer, on the go, or at home in front of the TV, we are guaranteeing that today’s public media is innovative and forward leaning – on-air, online and in the community.

We’re different than all other broadcasters because we are made up of member stations that reflect and serve the unique needs of their communities.

I’m particularly excited about what’s going on right here in Los Angeles, with our new full service PBS station.

PBS SoCal’s new role has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate how we can best serve the people of Southern California. 

Thanks to the fact that PBS SoCal, KVCR, and KCLS will be working together, I am confident that we will be able to provide even better service to the greater Los Angeles region. 

At PBS, our bottom line is the number of lives we touch, not the number of shareholders we enrich.

And by that measure, we’re set for a great season.

On that note, I’d like to close my remarks with a quote from a viewer in Letcher County, Kentucky.

She said, "[PBS] was my lifeline into another world beyond the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and for that I will always be forever grateful.  If every channel we had led with the heart, instead of with what sells, just think how much better off everyone would be. [PBS] leads with the heart."

Thank you. 


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