PRI terminates relationship with Tavis Smiley

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Public Radio International has terminated its agreement with Tavis Smiley Productions following “troubling allegations” that prompted PBS to suspend his weeknightly talk show.


“We were dismayed to hear about the allegations of misconduct against Tavis Smiley,” PRI said in a statement Friday. “PRI wants and expects the organizations with which we work to provide healthy and respectful workplaces. We have made the decision to terminate our Agreement with Tavis Smiley Productions, effective January 1, 2018.”

The program will feed to stations for the remainder of the year, with the last feed date on Dec. 29, PRI said.

PBS indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley Wednesday after an outside law firm concluded its investigation of alleged misconduct.

“This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley,” PBS said. “The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today’s decision.”

Smiley immediately pushed back in a widely shared video on Facebook, in which he denied any allegations of impropriety and questioned the integrity of the PBS-commissioned investigation.

“I have never groped, inappropriately exposed myself or coerced any colleague in the workplace — ever — in my 30-year career,” Smiley said. “PBS launched its so-called investigation of me without ever even telling me about it.”

Smiley said he learned of the investigation after former colleagues told him they were being interviewed by PBS. The investigators agreed to talk to him only after he threatened them with a lawsuit, he said, adding that they refused to look at any of his documentation or talk to his current staffers.

“It is clear that this has gone too far, and I for one intend to fight back,” Smiley said. “PBS over reacted and launched a sloppy investigation.”

PBS said it is feeding episodes of Third Rail with OZY to air in the Tavis Smiley time slot.

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