It’s a question that parents and teachers struggle to answer at home and in the classroom: how do we make math fun for kids? The creative minds at PBS Kids have spent the last few years devising a solution to that problem. With Ready to Learn funding provided through the Department of Education in 2010, PBS staff set their sights on creating two math-focused children’s shows. Their answer for the 3- to 5-year-old crowd was PEG + CAT, an animated series that debuted last fall. Produced by Fred Rogers Company, PEG + CAT teaches measurement, shapes and patterns, skills that help the characters solve their real-life problems.
Odd Squad, a live-action math series geared toward children ages 5 to 8, is the latest addition to PBS’s slate of math-based kids’ programming.
WNET will return a $3.5 million grant it received for a series of reports on public pensions after facing questions about the funder’s involvement with the issue. In a joint statement, PBS and WNET announced Friday that the grant to support the Pension Peril series would go back to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, whose co-founder John Arnold has supported efforts to reduce public pensions. “While PBS stands by WNET’s reporting in this series, in order to eliminate any perception on the part of the public, our viewers, and donors that the Foundation’s interests influenced the editorial integrity of the reporting for this program, WNET has decided to forego the Arnold Foundation support and will return the gift,” the statement said. The statement continued:
“We made a mistake, pure and simple,” said Stephen Segaller, Vice President of Programming at WNET. “The PBS NewsHour Weekend is a new production and while we thought we were following the guidelines and the correct vetting processes, we were incorrect.
Ted Krichels, CPB’s senior v.p. for system development and media strategy, recently talked to Current about the 50-page “Public Media Models of the Future” report he co-authored this fall with PBS Director of Strategy Stephen Holmes. Edited, rearranged and condensed excerpts from that conversation follow. Current: How did you start the process? Did you survey the entire system, or was it more word of mouth? Ted Krichels: Stephen and I initially were collecting stations, ones you would have heard about.
As some local pubcasters have started to forge paths toward models of public service developed through their own strategic planning or in collaboration with other stations, PBS has sought to bring more attention to their work, and progress, to date. Last year, it tapped Ted Krichels, former g.m. of Penn State Public Broadcasting, to lead its Sustainable Models Project, identifying models that other stations can replicate. Krichels completed that study last fall and recently joined CPB as senior v.p. for system development and media strategy. PBS released the 50-page “Public Media Models of the Future” report, written by Krichels and Stephen Holmes, PBS director of strategy, in November. Based on six months of research with public television station executives nationwide, the report identified eight service models: four within a broad category it called “community impact” and four that were focused on education.
The PBS Board unanimously voted today to amend national program underwriting standards to require a higher level of review for food and beverage companies seeking to sponsor kids’ shows. Under the revision, President Paula Kerger told the board, “a potential sponsor for a PBS Kids series will be acceptable only if its product could be considered to make a meaningful contribution to a healthful diet.”
The amendment will have “only a minimal impact on our funding mix,” Kerger said. Less than 1 percent of children’s content sponsors in fiscal 2013 will be affected, she noted. The recommendation came after months of review of current underwriting guidelines for children’s shows by PBS staff and the board’s corporate services advisory committee. Major producing station WGBH, Sesame Workshop and nutrition experts also participated.
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.