Next PBS chief content officer rules all content— as long as it’s on-air

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After starting the process to hire a new chief content officer, PBS has reduced the purview of the job. The CCO will oversee TV programming but will no longer supervise PBS Interactive and web content. The position also lost oversight over program promotion.

Until Current asked about the job description last week, the position said “the CCO will lead the PBS Interactive team.” That wording was from an older job description, spokesperson Jan McNamara said. PBS has now deleted that paragraph and a few other lines from the online document.

Seiken “will work very closely with the CCO” on web content, McNamara said. Part of the reason Seiken won’t report to the CCO is that he now has responsibility for ventures and other functions beyond the selection of content, she said.

When PBS hired John Boland as its first CCO in 2006, the big deal was that he would coordinate on-air and online content, but Boland left PBS this winter and is now president of San Francisco’s KQED.

When hired, the next content chief will still supervise TV programming and PBS programmer John Wilson, senior v.p.

PBS Interactive chief Jason Seiken, like the other veeps outside of TV programming, will report to Chief Operating Officer Michael D. Jones instead of the yet-to-be-appointed CCO. Seiken, who managed the COVE project that’s bringing online video to PBS and station websites, also gained responsibility over e-commerce and video distribution and online ventures.

Seiken also oversees PBS Distribution, or PBSd for short, which had its own reorganization in 2007. That’s when PBS and Boston’s WGBH combined PBS Home Video and other video distribution efforts in the PBSd joint venture. Included is PBS International, a unit that handles program sales to overseas media companies. PBS’s Andrea Downing and WGBH’s David Bernstein are the co-presidents of PBSd. Bernstein is also g.m. of WGBH Enterprises.

Andy Russell, who did much of the work on PBS’s strategic plan and worked on strategy for years at CPB, Accenture and Price Waterhouse Coopers, was named senior v.p., strategy and research. Russell gives up oversight over ventures to Seiken but gains PBS Research. Russell came to PBS three years ago as senior v.p., PBS Ventures. His teammate at both CPB and PBS, Loren Mayor, also moves into strategy and research. She had been v.p., corporate partnerships.

Program promotion, which has ping-ponged around the PBS org chart, will be consolidated with corporate communications and brand management under Lesli Rotenberg, senior v.p., marketing and communications and children’s media.

Some changes in the org chart accompany the arrival in March of Brian J. Reddington as senior v.p. of development. He was previously director of institutional advancement at the Smithsonian Institution. Among other tasks, Reddington will head fundraising for national projects in the arts; for journalism projects, including PBS’s planned online news portal; and for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for children, PBS said.

Reddington also will manage the PBS Foundation, which seeks gifts of $1 million and up. For three-and-a-half years, from 2005 until early 2009, the foundation had its own executive director, Cheri Carter, a former pediatric AIDS fundraiser and Clinton administration official hired by past PBS President Pat Mitchell. Phyllis Kim, deputy director of the foundation, served as interim director of the foundation for more than a year, until Reddington arrived last month.

Reddington “will also help establish a long-term vision to strengthen funding for PBS and its member stations, with a special focus on creating individual-giving programs and online fundraising initiatives,” a PBS news release said when he was hired.

But some of PBS’s efforts to train and equip station fundraisers will be managed by Joyce Herring, senior v.p. of station services, as part of a broader initiative to help stations with professional development. Vice President Beth Suarez, previously in PBS Development, now reports to Herring.

Other veeps, including education chief Rob Lippincott and Pat Hunter, senior v.p. of programming services, report to COO Jones.


PBS advertises for a chief content officer to succeed Boland.

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