Sylvia Bugg promoted to PBS chief programming exec

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Sylvia Bugg was promoted Tuesday to chief programming executive and GM for general audience programming for PBS.


Bugg replaces Perry Simon, who told the organization he was stepping down this summer to move to the West Coast. Bugg previously reported to Simon.

Bugg, who will report to CEO Paula Kerger, will oversee all non-children’s content and lead PBS’ programming strategy across broadcast and digital platforms. She will also lead acquisitions and development for PBS and member stations “with a particular focus on sharing important stories that reflect the diversity of our country,” according to a news release.

Bugg rejoined PBS this year as VP of general audience programming. Before that, she worked as a VP of diversity and television content for CPB. Prior to joining CPB in 2014, she was a director of general audience programming at PBS, where she helped develop a portfolio of drama, performance and cultural programs. She also held several programming roles in history and public affairs at PBS from 1993 to 1999. Outside of public media, Bugg worked for Discovery Communications from 1999 to 2012.

In a memo to staff obtained by Current, Kerger credited Bugg with shifting PBS’ broadcast and streaming offerings this year to focus on programs that explore race and racism. She has also worked with the World Channel and other producers and stations to restructure PBS’ daytime and prime-time schedules, according to the release.

In the memo, Kerger said Bugg will also work with COO Jonathan Barzilay “to ensure alignment between her department and corporate functions across PBS.”

“I am especially grateful for her steady leadership during this time when our service to the American people is more important than ever. From leading PBS’s multiplatform efforts in response to COVID-19, to enhancing our schedule to support the national conversation around race and racism in America, Sylvia’s extensive experience, passion for our mission and knowledge of public media are invaluable to PBS and our member stations,” Kerger wrote.

Bugg will lead the search for a new VP of programming in coming weeks, Kerger added.

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