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PBS Announces Long-Term Initiative to Further Support Diverse Voices Across Public Media

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EAST LANSING, MI; January 19, 2022 — At the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger announced a new effort in support of long-term, ongoing and comprehensive initiatives to diversify public media.

This project further advances PBS’s commitment to elevate diverse voices and perspectives and accelerate the transformation of public media’s producing ecosystem to include more diverse perspectives in key production roles. The work is made possible through a grant from Anne Ray Foundation.

Beginning this year, PBS will begin implementing key elements of this comprehensive initiative, such as:

  • Early-Career Filmmaker Mentorship Program
    To help reduce barriers and increase access for diverse filmmakers within the public media system, PBS will establish a robust mentorship program for early-career filmmakers. Through immersive experiences, PBS will help emerging filmmakers build relationships within the public media system and equip mentees with the skills and relationships needed to produce content for public media platforms.
  • Executive Fellowship Program
    PBS will create a year-long fellowship program that will embed promising filmmakers and rising executives into existing productions, to help them gain the experience necessary to advance their careers. In addition to supporting filmmakers, it will accelerate changes in the producing ecosystem by bringing more voices into the production process, and creating a wider pool of diverse candidates who make significant contributions to public media in both producing and executive roles.
  • Accountability and Reporting Structure
    PBS will work with an external consultant to evaluate the impact of these initiatives and identify key learnings that can inform the broader efforts to elevate diverse voices and perspectives across public media.

“Sharing a broad array of voices and perspectives across our platforms is fundamental to fulfilling our mission, and creating distinctive content that educates, engages, and inspires,” said Sylvia Bugg, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming. “Through this long-term, ongoing initiative, we hope to amplify the work of public media leaders and content creators.”
PBS continues to offer more diverse content— and collaborate with more diverse creators— than any other broadcast network. During the 2021 season, over 50 percent of PBS’s primetime schedule included diverse on-screen talent and/or addressed specific subject matter. However, to fully reflect and represent the broad diversity of America, PBS is committed to building on this foundation. The grant-funded initiative will roll-out in the coming weeks.

With its national reach and local presence in communities across the country, public television is singularly positioned to effect change at scale. Through thoughtfully crafted, grant-funded initiatives and working with independent producers, PBS member stations and public media organizations—such as Latino Public Broadcasting, Black Public Media, Vision Maker Media, Pacific Islanders in Communication, Center for Asian American Media, The WORLD Channel, ITVS and American Documentary—PBS will continue to fulfill its mission by expanding its roster of leaders, creators and content offerings.

About PBS
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.

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