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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

President, CEO of PBS spoke Tuesday

Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, speaks about the future of public media during a lecture on Tuesday night at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

As she stepped up to the podium, Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, jokingly told the crowd not to ask her about the plot for the next 
season of “Downton Abbey.”

As students, faculty and community members sat in the audience, Kerger discussed the future of public media.

Kerger spoke Tuesday at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater as the third speaker of the Media School’s Fall 2015 Speaker Series. The event was co-sponsored by WTIU.

“In public media, our mission is not just to draw large viewing numbers,” Kerger said. “Public media’s mission is to use our platform to educate, engage and inspire our viewers.”

Kerger became president and CEO of PBS in 2006. During that time, PBS had its highest-rated drama “Downton Abbey.” She is also the president of the PBS Foundation, an organization that raises private sector funding for PBS.

Before she took the stage, Perry Metz, executive director of IU Radio and Television Services, introduced Kerger.

Metz said Kerger brings both heart and soul to her leadership and always keeps her eye on the ways public television can be a force of good in society.

“She is an organization president who manages the money but always in service to the mission,” Metz said.

Kerger’s first point involved the importance of telling good stories. She said it does not matter how or where you are watching television.

“The key is the integrity and the interest of the stories themselves,” she added.

Kerger also stressed the importance of communal viewing and stories that bring people together.

“I think when you have a story like that ... that is so beautifully told it inspires people to come together,” Kerger said.

She said as PBS moves into the future, it is recommitting to its mission and staying true to its fundamental principles.

It’s focused on preparing the next generation to participate in tomorrow’s economy by engaging with audiences across platforms to increase its reach and increasing civic engagement, Kerger said.

As part of these principles, PBS is trying to expand access to all children. By age 4, Kerger said, only 40 percent of children are attending preschool with the percentage’s being higher in high-income 
families.

In order to expand access for children, Kerger said PBS is working with early childhood experts to understand how to create content that teaches children basic skills in literacy, math and social skills.

“I hope you also know that there is a deep curriculum base to all of the work that we develop,” Kerger said.

As part of her presentation, Kerger gave audience members sneak peeks at a few different programs for PBS, including the new season of “Sherlock” and PBS Digital Studios, a YouTube channel where PBS distributes 
educational content.

Kerger ended her talk by discussing the importance that PBS remains local.

That allows each station to tell the stories of what is happening in its community, Kerger said.

She said it is special that WTIU is tied to the University.

“Because this is such an extraordinary university that provides really interesting 
opportunities,” Kerger said.

After talking about how PBS is evolving, Kerger admitted she did not know what the future of television is.

“But what I do know is that it’s going to be really compelling video,” Kerger said. “Whether it appears in any of those places, I think we can assume that people are going to want to look at things in very different places and very different time.”

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