Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 12:26am
[SOURCE: PBS press release]
Paula A. Kerger, a top executive at New York's Educational Broadcasting Corporation, licensee of Thirteen/WNET and WLIW New York -â€“ two of the nation's largest public television stations -â€“ will become the Public Broadcasting Service's sixth president and chief executive officer on March 13, the PBS Board of Directors announced today. Ms. Kerger will direct the operations of the nation's largest public broadcasting service, comprised of 348 member stations that reach more than 99 percent of U.S. television households. She will succeed Pat Mitchell, who announced her plan to step down as PBS' president and CEO in February 2005.
Since 2004, Ms. Kerger has been executive vice president and chief operating officer of EBC. She manages the overall operations of the corporation, oversees the editorial content of the local station and educational outreach, and directs government affairs, development and communications as well as works closely with the President and Chairman on board issues. Ms. Kerger jointed EBC in 1993 as vice president and director of development and government affairs for Thirteen/WNET. Under her stewardship, the station's Campaign for Thirteen -- completed in 1997 -- raised $79 million, the largest endowment campaign ever undertaken by a public television station. In 2002, Ms. Kerger was promoted to vice president and station manager of Thirteen/WNET. In this role, Ms. Kerger oversaw local program acquisition, broadcast scheduling, communications, on-air promotion, and pledge production. In addition, she supervised individual giving, as well as Thirteen's volunteer program, viewer and member services, and government affairs. Ms. Kerger also directed the launch of four digital channels: ThirteenHD, Kids Thirteen, World and Create. The latter, launched in January 2006 through a partnership with WGBH/Boston and American Public Television, is public television's first 24-hour lifestyle channel.
Before joining EBC, Ms. Kerger was the director of principal gifts for the Metropolitan Opera. She also served as director of development and alumni affairs for International House in New York, and as program development officer for the U.S. Committee for UNICEF.
Ms. Kerger is vice chairman of American Public Television and vice chairman of the Association of Public Broadcasting Stations of New York. She is a founding trustee of the PBS Foundation and former chairman of the PBS Development Advisory Committee. She serves on the Eighth Congressional District Advisory Committee on Culture and the Arts and serves as a professional delegate of the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), from which she received the 1997 Outstanding Grassroots Advocate Award. In 2000, she received the Frances P. Schuman Award from the National Friends of Public Broadcasting and in 2001 was named PBS Development Professional of the Year. In 2005, Ms. Kerger was named to the Women's Forum, an organization of 300 leading women in the professions, arts and business life of New York.
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We're excited and relieved to see a committed advocate of the public interest appointed to lead PBS. After the Kenneth Tomlinson controversy, the public is demanding change, and we hope that Paula Kerger will be a strong ally to advance needed reforms. Public broadcasting is at a crossroads. It will continue to suffer partisan attacks and threats to its budget without policies to protect long-term funding and provide political insulation. We look forward to working with the new president to put the public back in public broadcasting.
* To succeed, Ms. Kerger has to ruffle feathers; not hide behind Big Bird's.
[SOURCE: Center for Digital Democracy]
Ms. Kerger has to quickly articulate a serious public interest vision for non-commercial digital TV. She has to challenge the system--including the stations, independents and other producers--to create content that illustrates that public television is relevant and necessary in the broadband era. Kerger has to also fearlessly defend the mission of public television to produce serious, thought-provoking, and risk-taking programming --especially against the conservative cabal running CPB and much of Congress. She also has to develop a plan that will build financial support to keep public television in business. There's no question that she faces a near impossible task--but one that must be done if PBS is to survive. Kerger also has to reach out to the constituency of those who care about the quality of our media lives and also want to see greater expression of diversity on television. She has to ignore the ever-pressing demands of the producing stations--such as WNET--while reaching out to women, persons of color, independents. These groups are being left out of the media revolution. She needs to harness their energy and support to spearhead a movement to preserve non-commercial TV in the digital age.
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