General Manager of PBS America in the UK, Richard Kingsbury, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss educational TV, impartial reporting and the value of public media.
PBS America (Public Broadcasting Service) was founded in 1969. There are more than 300 PBS channels in the US and 85% of their income comes direct from philanthropic donations; 15% comes from the government.
In the US, PBS has been voted the most trusted institution for 10 consecutive years running.
PBS is a non-profit organisation, with a strong focus on educational TV. In the UK, some of the more prominent programs are Nova (science), Frontline (current affairs) and the American Experience (history), alongside high-quality documentaries.
Viewers of PBS in the UK tend to be intellectually curious and have a desire to learn -- not just relax -- as they watch TV. Richard notes that PBS programming is dense with information and insight.
PBS also serves a cultural exchange function, bringing programming with a strong American flavour to British audiences, while broadcasting many British shows to American audiences in the US.
Richard notes that many British viewers generally formulate their view of the US from Hollywood and, therefore, part of the appeal of PBS in the UK is that it brings in-depth, real-life stories that give British audiences a much more rounded picture of what America is like.
The impartiality of PBS is something Richard underscores clearly and he notes that public media exposes all sides to the debate and, therefore, has a real value at a time when many individuals tend to have a disproportionate exposure to likeminded views.
The key takeaway for listeners: Richard drives home the message that there is real value in public media and we need to appreciate its role in allowing people to come to informed and rational decisions.
About Richard Kingsbury
Richard was appointed General Manager for PBS UK LLC in May 2011 to launch the only PBS channel outside the US. He is responsible for all aspects of the channel including commercial deals and creative output.
In 2011 he set up the channel from scratch including recruiting a team, securing distribution, organising the broadcast technology infrastructure and creating the programming and market proposition. Since then the channel has grown and become profitable in a crowded market through expanding distribution, cost control, canny acquisitions and a focus on PR.
Richard was previously Channel Head at UKTV of the Good Food and Yesterday channels and before that held a number of senior marketing roles in TV and in the food industry with Unilever in Europe and Asia.