PBS and CPB Continue to Lead Broadcast Industry in Public Affairs Programming in 2003

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MacNeil/Lehrer Presents a Portrait of the New Congress

Award-winning Filmmaker Sherry Jones Looks Back at Watergate

International Series Wide Angle Receives Major Funding for Second Season


Hollywood CA, January 10, 2003 --PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell today announced that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will support three major projects in 2003 furthering public television's award-winning leadership in public affairs programming. Speaking at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Los Angeles, Ms. Mitchell said that CRISIS AND CONFLICTS: THE 108TH CONGRESS is scheduled to air just as the new Congress begins its first legislative session. The program, which will be broadcast on January 28, 2003 at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings), is produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and hosted by Jim Lehrer. WATERGATE PLUS 30, which will be written, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Sherry Jones, is in development and slated to premiere in Summer 2003, the 30th anniversary of the historic Watergate hearings. The second season of the critically acclaimed WIDE ANGLE from Thirteen/WNET New York, the only regularly scheduled in-depth international documentary series on American television, has received major funding from CPB and PBS and will debut in July 2003.

Public broadcasting's commitment to public affairs programming has made PBS an industry leader in this important genre. Last month, PBS was honored with three Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards -- more than any other media enterprise. In September, PBS again outshone all other broadcast and cable by winning 14 News and Documentary Emmys. Honored with eight George Foster Peabody Awards in March, PBS led all other networks for the ninth consecutive year.

"Public television is continuing its commitment to outstanding public affairs programming in 2003," said PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell. "We will examine pivotal historic, domestic and international events that shape our lives today. It's this dedication to sound journalism that has made PBS the leader in credible and objective news programming."

"Two of these programs -- looking back at Watergate and looking ahead with the new Congress -- will offer viewers the opportunity to reflect on our country's past and future. That kind of engagement is vital in a democracy," said Robert T. Coonrod, president and CEO of CPB. "But in today's world, it is equally important that we learn about and understand others. Programs like WIDE ANGLE can help create a better understanding of our country and the world in which we live. CPB is proud to support these three important programs."

Scheduled to coincide with President Bush's State of the Union Address (which will air live on PBS), the hour-long CRISIS AND CONFLICTS, produced by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, examines the beginning of a new era as the Republican party takes control of both the White House and Congress for the first time since 1954. A weakened economy, the possibility of war with Iraq and threats of domestic terrorism are just a few of the issues facing legislators on both sides of the aisle. Battles are also looming over prescription drugs, health care, Social Security, environmental concerns and the authority granted to the new Department of Homeland Security -- all while the 2004 presidential election begins to take shape.

It has been more than three decades since a break-in at the Watergate Office Building set a chain of events in motion that would lead to a presidential resignation. Produced by Sherry Jones in cooperation with Carlton Productions LLC and the Washington Post -- whose reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke the historic story -- WATERGATE PLUS 30 will be a television event that brings together many of the Watergate participants to recall their roles and to reflect on its lingering repercussions. The two-hour program will use some of the original locations associated with the events of 1973 weaving together interviews, archive and film sequences to provide context, history and explanation.

Ms. Jones' films have won seven Emmy Awards, three duPont-Columbia Awards for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism, three George Foster Peabody Awards for significant and meritorious achievement in broadcasting, two Robert F. Kennedy Awards for outstanding coverage of the problems of the disadvantaged, and three Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Overseas Press Club of America. She has produced 25 films for the PBS documentary series, FRONTLINE; two "Peter Jennings Reporting" specials for ABC News, including "Hiroshima: Why the Bomb Was Dropped."

WIDE ANGLE presents in-depth documentaries about the complex political, religious, economic and social forces shaping our world today. The series, which was described as "unerringly first class" by The Wall Street Journal and "a distinct and valuable voice" by The New York Times, is hosted by former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin and BBC-trained journalist Daljit Dhaliwal. In its first season, WIDE ANGLE journeyed deep into Northern Iraq to explore alleged links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda; traveled to Chechnya and obtained unique access to the war being waged by the Russian military and the Chechen rebels; traced the opium trail from Afghanistan across Central Asia; investigated the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India; and examined many other topics that coincided with -- or even anticipated -- front-page headlines. During its upcoming episodes, the series will travel the globe to help American viewers better understand the complexities of world events.

In addition to support from CPB and PBS, the first season of WIDE ANGLE was made possible by additional grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Jacob Burns Foundation and the Florence and John Schumann Foundation. Additional funding came from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Foundation.

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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Jan McNamara, PBS