News Briefs: Kerger to Take Reins of PBS on March 13

Jan 30, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Paula Kerger, a top executive at New York’s Educational Broadcasting Corp., will become the Public Broadcasting Service’s sixth president and CEO on March 13, PBS’s board of directors announced last week. Ms. Kerger will replace Pat Mitchell, who has served two terms as PBS president and was recently appointed president of the Museum of Television & Radio. In an interview with TelevisionWeek, Ms. Kerger said revenue will be her top priority coming into the new job. “It’s the biggest issue for public broadcasting,” she said.

Poltrack to Run New CBS Research Unit

CBS Corp. announced last week it has created a research unit within the media company to examine opportunities in emerging technologies and has promoted longtime CBS research guru David Poltrack to run the operation. The new unit, to be called CBS Vision, will provide research and market intelligence on new technologies and share that information with CBS’s businesses and with advertisers. Mr. Poltrack will become president of CBS Vision and will be promoted to executive VP and chief research officer of CBS Corp.

EchoStar Offers Lifetime a la Carte Option

A day after Lifetime Entertainment Services rejected what it called a “take it or leave it” carriage offer from EchoStar Communications, the satellite operator last Tuesday sent a letter to the programmer’s top affiliate sales executive offering to make Lifetime available to subscribers on an a la carte basis. Lifetime responded to the offer by saying, “We stand by our position that Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network, the No. 1 and No. 2 women’s networks, should be available to all Dish subscribers without an extra cost.” The offer is the latest in a feud between the two parties that has played out publicly since the beginning of the year.

MTV Networks Shows Head to iTunes

MTV Networks is the latest source to put its programming on Apple’s iTunes Music Store, the companies announced last week. For $1.99 each, consumers will be able to download episodes of 14 shows from MTV, MTV2, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and The N, including “Laguna Beach,” “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “South Park.” The deal moves iTunes into new genres, including stand-up comedy, reality and preschool.

Viacom Plus Rebranded to Reflect Breakup

CBS Corp. and Viacom said Monday that both companies will continue to use the 7-year-old operation known as Viacom Plus, but will rebrand it as CBS/Viacom Plus to reflect the recent breakup of the Sumner Redstone-controlled media giant. Officials from CBS and Viacom said that CBS/Viacom Plus’ success in recent years convinced both sides to continue using the division. Lisa McCarthy will continue to lead CBS/Viacom Plus as executive VP.

Fox Orders Late-Night Saturday Talk Show

Fox has ordered a weekly late-night comedy talk show

hosted by comedian Spike Feresten for fall 2006. The half-hour show, which has the working title “Talk Show With Spike Feresten,” will air Saturdays at midnight (ET), following sketch comedy series “MadTV.”