Seven PBS Stations Revamp Primetime Line-Up For Pilot Schedule Project

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NASHVILLE, TN, June 10, 2000 - Viewers of public television stations in seven markets across the country will find their favorite PBS series occupying new timeslots this fall - the first scheduling move in 25 years for some programs. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) today unveiled a revised primetime line-up, the centerpiece of the PBS Pilot Schedule Project, a new initiative to create a more viewer-friendly program schedule. John F. Wilson, senior vice president of programming at PBS, announced the pilot schedule at the opening session of the PBS Annual Meeting in Nashville.

Participating PBS member stations include: WMFE Orlando; WQED Pittsburgh; WHYY Philadelphia; GPTV Atlanta; KUED Salt Lake City; WVIZ Cleveland; and KPBS San Diego.

Beginning October 1, EXXONMOBIL MASTERPIECE THEATRE and THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE swap their long-held Sunday and Monday slots, respectively; NATURE relocates to Friday; and MYSTERY! moves to Tuesday. (The PBS Pilot Schedule Project program grid, still subject to change, is attached.)

The programming experiment, the first of its kind at PBS, is funded in part by PBS member stations and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

"Our goal is to create a more logical schedule for our viewers, which we hope will draw more people to PBS stations, increase audience flow from program to program and extend the time viewers spend watching our programs," said Mr. Wilson. "This pilot schedule, developed after extensive research and station collaboration, will make it easier for viewers to find their favorite programs and to discover new ones."

Along with the scheduling shifts, for the first time, PBS will distribute new and repeat episodes of key series in the same week. The episode of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW that premieres on Sunday will be repeated on Wednesday; and NOVA, which continues to premiere on Tuesday nights, will also feature a different, previously aired episode on Thursday. In addition, primetime on Sunday has been extended by one hour to include PBS history, science and adventure specials beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Each of the seven test stations will broadcast the pilot schedule from October 1, 2000, through early March 2001. The experimental schedule, which takes into consideration local programming commitments in individual markets, will be evaluated throughout this period. Information gathered during the test run will be used to plan the PBS National Program Service line-up for 2001, with a potential nationwide roll-out of the revamped schedule planned for April 2001.

To ensure viewers are aware of the scheduling changes, PBS and the participating stations are collaborating on a special localized promotion campaign that will launch this summer in each market.

Working with PBS Research and TRAC Media, the seven stations were chosen to provide a sampling of nationwide markets based on station size and location, audience demographics, and current viewing levels and patterns. Research results from the combined stations will provide a statistically valid indication of a national response to primetime schedule changes.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 34 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of noncommercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week. More information about PBS is available at PBS.org.


Dara Goldberg

Harry Forbes

Jan McNamara