TCA: PBS Chief Paula Kerger Plays Defense Over Programming

TCA: PBS Unveils Premiere Dates, New Antiquing Competition Series ‘Market Wars’

Diane Haithman
is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.

At the first day of the winter TCA in Pasadena, PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger found herself defending the mission of public broadcasting against comparisons to the mission of cable television — most notably HBO — particularly in light of PBS’ continued struggle to survive with dwindling public support. Prompting questions from journalists during the panel was a recent New York Times article that focused on PBS’ multiple-Emmy-winning Downton Abbey, which premiered on the “Masterpiece” anthology last January and has been widely compared to the type of programming one might view on HBO. PBS had launched an aggressive, network-style Emmy campaign for the series. Also fueling the discussion was PBS’ marketing campaign for Ken Burns’ Prohibition series, which piggybacked on the promotional blitz for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese’s Prohibition-era drama series, by holding a joint roundtable discussion with PBS darling Burns and creators of the HBO series. Said Kerger: “I think what the article was talking about was, first, it was focused on Downton being a hit — it’s funny how many people have told me that PBS was cool again, I always thought it was cool, but that’s my opinion.” She said the only relevant comparison between HBO and today’s PBS is “we both produce quality programming.” (more…)

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