PBS is in "the final stages" of hiring a new executive to improve public TV fundraising efforts at both the local and national levels, President Paula Kerger announced during the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., Monday.
A Downton Abbey pledge show from PBS was the top fundraiser by far for December public television drives, but repeats of the hit Brit drama also possibly cut into station time to raise even more money on the air.
The much-anticipated fourth season premiere of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classic drew a massive 10.2 million viewers on Sunday, good enough to make the two-hour episode the highest rated drama premiere in PBS history, according to PBS.
PBS is pairing two Masterpiece favorites on Sunday nights: the upcoming third season of its hit Sherlock and ratings blockbuster Downton Abbey, the network announced today. "We continue to execute on our programming strategy to focus on our key genres, build on our night-by-night schedule, and develop new brand-defining content that sets PBS apart in the changing media landscape," PBS program chief Beth Hoppe told member station executives in an email today. PBS also announced that its 2012–13 primetime programming ratings increased 7 percent over last season, elevating the network to No. 8 among all broadcast and cable outlets from its previous rank of No. 11.
American Masters and Downton Abbey led the opening round of the annual Primetime Emmys Sept. 15 by claiming three Creative Arts Emmys for PBS. American Masters, a production of New York's WNET, topped the category for outstanding documentary or nonfiction series. Credit for the Emmy went to Susan Lacy, executive producer; Julie Sacks, supervising producer; Prudence Glass, series producer; and Jessica Levin, producer. The Emmy for direction in nonfiction programming was awarded to Robert Trachtenberg for his direction of the American Masters biography "Mel Brooks: Make a Noise."
The fourth season of Downton Abbey, launching in January on Masterpiece, will bring an influx of related merchandise. Soon fans will be able to create a quilt with Downton fabric, drape themselves in Downton jewelry, deck their halls with Downton Christmas ornaments and toast their favorite program with Downton wine as products roll out in anticipation of the premiere. “Our licensing program includes a two-pronged approach,” said Carole Postal, a co-president of Knockout Licensing in New York City, which is managing Downton product licensing in the U.S. and Canada. “Aspirational products are for those who love the elegant period look and feel of the show, and fan-based products are for those who want to show and share their enthusiasm for the characters, the writing and everything else about the series.”
Carnival Films, part of NBCUniversal, owns the intellectual-property rights to the Edwardian costume drama, which has been a huge ratings and critical hit for PBS. Executive Producer Gareth Neame told The Associated Press that Downton merchandise has been rolling out slowly.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — PBS President Paula Kerger called for local public TV stations and PBS to move beyond their reputations as a “dysfunctional family” to embrace “the power of a collective system” to strengthen their public service. In a keynote speech opening this year’s PBS Annual Meeting, Kerger said public television has reached an important moment in its history — one that she considers to be “the most important moment of my tenure” as PBS president. Kerger pointed to the outpouring of support for public TV when its federal funding came under attack during the fall presidential elections and the international attention and praise that accrued to PBS and stations following the blockbuster Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey. “We have the potential to accomplish great things,” Kerger said.