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PBS Doubles Down on the Arts

by USA Today
07-30-2011

Overall, it’s been a pretty good year for PBS.

Ratings are up, thanks in part to two Masterpiece hits, Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. The system scored a record number of Emmy nominations. And a threat to cut off funding in January was successfully beaten back.

Well, for the time being. With the current Congress and crisis, no one can say what’s going to happen next — but PBS is in there, pitching. “We recognize that these are difficult times and Congress is faced with extraordinary choices,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “But we will continue to make our case for funding.”

One way the system intends to make that case is by expanding its commitment to the arts, a field cable has largely abandoned. In October, PBS will launch its PBS Arts Fall Festival, a series of Friday night broadcasts from around the nation that will range from a Guthrie Theater performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore to Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park in December.

“I am very interested, and I think it’s part of our mission, to shine a bright light on the great work that is going on around this country.”

Not that PBS is all Kerger watches. She loves Nurse Jackie, and was very impressed by John Adams on HBO and Planet Earth on Discovery — and is encouraged whenever anyone does good work.

“I’d much rather see that than yet another series on cupcakes.”

Posted in: News

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