PBS looks for S.O.S. from Kerger

It seems that by appointing Paula Kerger as its new president to succeed Pat Mitchell, PBS has settled on an insider to steer its ship through troubled waters.

This statement from one of my favorite and most quotable media analysts, Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy , suggests that the only person facing a more difficult challenge than Kerger will be the new prime minister of Iraq:

Ms. Kerger probably already deserves a medal for taking a job that should either only attract masochists or those who enjoy working every day in a political minefield.

Ms. Kerger has to quickly articulate a serious public interest vision for non-commercial digital TV.  She has to challenge the system--including the stations, independents and other producers--to create content that illustrates that public television is relevant and necessary in the broadband era.   Kerger has to also fearlessly defend the mission of public television to produce serious, thought-provoking, and risk-taking programming --especially against the conservative cabal running CPB and much of Congress.  She also has to develop a plan that will build financial support to keep public television in business.  There's no question that she faces a near impossible task--but one that must be done if PBS is to survive.

Kerger also has to reach out to the constituency of those who care about the quality of our media lives and also want to see greater expression of diversity on television.  She has to ignore the ever-pressing demands of the producing stations--such as WNET--while reaching out to women, persons of color, independents.  These groups are being left out of the media revolution.  She needs to harness their energy and support to spearhead a movement to preserve non-commercial T.V. in the digital age.

Good luck.

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