2002 A Year Of Excellence And Honors For PBS

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Hollywood CA, January 10, 2003 -- With increased viewership, dozens of prestigious industry awards and accolades from critics, PBS wrapped up 2002 with a flourish. PBS' Fall programming generated an 18%* increase in audience for its national primetime schedule. PBS surpassed all competitors in the number of Emmys won for news, documentary and children's programming, as well as Peabody Awards. Last month, PBS captured more duPont-Columbia Awards for broadcast journalism than any other media enterprise, with FRONTLINE taking the top honor -- a Gold Baton for its series on terrorism and Islamic militants.

"Our strategy has been 'keep the best and reinvent the rest,' and this year is evidence of the progress we've made," said PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell. "With the success of 'Skinwalkers;' recognition for having the most credible public affairs programming; our leadership position with children's programming and the growth in reach for online and educational services, PBS is meeting its mandate and bringing value to Americans."

On-air and Online
This past season showcased series and specials that featured innovative approaches to the kind of diverse, quality programming that is the hallmark of public television. Highlights from the Fall 2002 schedule that helped drive the increased viewership included:

--"Skinwalkers," the first American chapter in the MYSTERY! anthology. This 90-minute film from Executive Producer Robert Redford captured a projected audience of nearly 12 million viewers.**

--"EXXONMOBIL MASTERPIECE THEATRE's production of "The Forsyte Saga," a tale of true love and lust set in Victorian London with 21st century production values.

--"BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, a documentary that starred Tony Award-winning actor Richard Easton as the American genius.

--"NOVA's investigation into "Why the Towers Fell," featuring the discoveries of forensic engineers who studied the rubble of the World Trade Center.

--"FRONTLINE's "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero," a documentary that examined the spiritual aftershocks of September 11.

--"A portrait of former president and recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize Jimmy Carter from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

--"AMERICAN MASTERS' tribute to a true American original in "Willie Nelson: Still Is Still Moving."

--"Natalie Cole: Ask a Woman Who Knows," a GREAT PERFORMANCES music special starring the unforgettable jazz/pop legend.

--"A digitally remastered version of the Ken Burns classic, THE CIVIL WAR, as well as the successful launch of KEN BURNS AMERICAN STORIES, a weekly series presenting the work of America's foremost documentarian.

--"LIBERTY'S KIDS, a PBS KIDS program aimed at 7-12 year olds debuted in September. Set in colonial America, this "revolutionary" animated series introduces young viewers to the stories and people behind the birth of a nation. Walter Cronkite, as the voice of Benjamin Franklin, leads an all-star cast that includes Annette Bening (Abigail Adams), Billy Crystal (John Adams), Whoopi Goldberg (Deborah Samson) and Liam Neeson (John Paul Jones). The title song is performed by Aaron Carter.

--"PBS was honored with 3 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards in December, more than any other competitor. In addition to FRONTLINE's golden baton, PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and P.O.V. each won a silver baton for their respective programs, "Ansel Adams A Documentary Film" and "The Smith Family." Another silver baton was earned by member station KPBS for "Culture of Hate: Who Are We?"

--"" In October, pbs.org -- the most popular dot-org site on the Internet -- shattered its all-time monthly usage figure, racking up more than 218 million pageviews. Among the most popular sites that month were those devoted to Ken Burns's THE CIVIL WAR, "The Forsyte Saga" and numerous PBS KIDS programs.

Awards and Honors

PBS was honored with three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards in December, more than any other competitor. In addition to FRONTLINE's Gold Baton, PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and P.O.V. each won a Silver Baton for their respective programs, "Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film" and "The Smith Family." Another Silver Baton was earned by member station KPBS for "Culture of Hate: Who Are We?"

In September, PBS won 14 News and Documentary Emmys, more than any other broadcast or cable entity. May brought nine Daytime Emmys to PBS KIDS, putting it in first place among award-winners for children's programming. Honored with eight George Foster Peabody Awards in March, PBS led all other networks for the ninth consecutive year.

PBS received another important tribute in Spring 2002 when Ready To Learn, its highly acclaimed pre-school initiative that combines educational on-air content with community outreach, was honored by President and Mrs. Bush in a White House ceremony for its efforts to improve early childhood education and literacy.

Survey Says: PBS is #1

PBS' public affairs programming was chosen the most credible and most objective on television, according to a recently released survey of opinion leaders. The independent study, which was conducted by Erdos & Morgan*** for the 2002-2003 season, rates PBS at or near the top of the 46 major broadcast and cable news shows. The results named THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, FRONTLINE, NOW WITH BILL MOYERS and WASHINGTON WEEK as the first, second, third and fourth "most credible" programs respectively.

These same programs were respectively rated the first, sixth, seventh and eleventh "most objective" in the study THE NEWSHOUR was also rated the third "most watched." In one or more categories, PBS programs rated higher than leading national shows like "ABC World News Tonight," "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," "NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw," "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation."

According to a study conducted in May, PBS KIDS is the top quality children's media brand among parents of boys and girls ages 2-11.**** Regardless of how old their children were, the parents surveyed always rated PBS KIDS #1 in quality.

A New Look

PBS' primetime air looked remarkably different, thanks to the launch of a branding campaign that urged viewers to "Be More" through four television spots directed by critically acclaimed independent filmmakers Alfonso Cuaron ("Y Tu Mama Tambien," "A Little Princess") and Francois Girard ("The Red Violin"). A new primetime on-air graphics package debuted at the same time.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 350 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet.



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* Nielsen Station Index, Galaxy Navigator metered-market average household ratings for prime-time programs designated by PBS for common carriage by member stations, 9/16/2001-12/18/2001 vs. 9/15/2002-12/18/2002. Subject to qualifications, available on request.

** PBS Research projection.

*** Erdos & Morgan, "Opinion Leaders 2002-2003 / A National Study of Contemporary Issue Involvement & Media Influence." Results based on a national sample of 1,499 opinion leaders.

*** Harris Interactive, "PBS KIDS Image Tracking Study" conducted online with 1,313 parents with kids 2-11 in May 2002.


Jan McNamara, PBS