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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/2/11

Programmers "frank, direct, negative" on PBS' Need To Know

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Message Rory OConnor
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Ratings for the broadcast program?  well, is the glass half-empty or
half-full? Overall, the national rating is a tenth of a point below Bill
Moyers Journal and NOW  and similarly, a tenth of a point below Washington Week in Review, a program with a 20-plus year lead on NTK in building a loyal audience. We would love for the rating to be higher, of course. And we intend to build it up over time.

The launch of the show in late Spring, followed by two pledge periods in four months, was a huge handicap. In hindsight, we would all probably have been smarter to launch in September. But happily, the past two months have seen the audience build back steadily. We are using every trick we know in social media and public relations to keep and grow the buzz about the show, about Alison and Jon, about individual stories, segments etc. You can play a big role here. We are now offering localized promos, we want to hear from your producers and web teams about content that we can link to or bring to
national audiences.

In sum, we are working flat out to make NTK the new current affairs show that PBS, we and all of you need it to be. And happily, viewer reaction is getting ever better. By late summer, we were no longer receiving angry e-mails about Bill -- or very few. By far the majority of the e-mails that mentioned Bill were along these lines:

"I was a loyal viewer of Bill Moyers journal and NOW and was devastated when I realized they would be no more. But I am thrilled with the quality and intelligence of Need To Know. I just want to congratulate PBS for this great new show."

And this: "Congratulations on an exceptional program and format. I am a long time viewer of the Journal and Now and am very pleased with both your broadcast program and website the entire staff has produced. Great job and keep up the much needed real journalism."

I hope you find it useful to have our thoughts on NTK at this point. We hope that you will give the venture the room and the time it needs to evolve, improve, and find its long-term place in the schedule and in the minds and hearts of the viewers. This does not happen overnight, especially considering the challenges we started with. And please, above all, let us have *your* thoughts and impressions - positive, negative, and in-between.

NTK is a collaboration, and we're in this together. Thanks for your
attention.

*Stephen Segaller Shelley Lewis*

*VP Content, WNET E.P. Need To Know*

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Filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor writes the 'Media Is A Plural' blog, accessible at www.roryoconnor.org.
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