×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

PBS Chief Talks Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley, #MeToo

PBS in recent months parted ways with two of its highest-profile on-air personalities, Charlie Rose and Tavis Smiley, amid sexual-misconduct allegations. Speaking Tuesday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, PBS chief executive Paula Kerger addressed both departures as well as the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault.

“When we are aware of issues, we’ll move quickly, as we did with Charlie Rose, as we did [with] Tavis Smiley,” Kerger said.

PBS canceled Rose’s long-running late-night talk show in November following a Washington Post story that revealed a years-long pattern of alleged sexual misconduct directed at employees of his independent production company. Smiley’s own talk show was canceled in December after an investigation commissioned by PBS found credible allegations that Smiley had engaged in sexual relationships with multiple subordinates at his company.

Under its model, PBS distributes independently produced programs but does not employ any of the personnel who work on those programs.

“That does not absolve us from the responsibility of trying to ensure that we are supporting a culture where people are respected,” Kerger said. She added that PBS has long had internal policies and mechanisms — including a hotline to anonymously report misconduct — in place to address inappropriate workplace behavior. The public broadcaster recently put in place a new policy that requires annual training for employees on workplace behavior, a shift Kerger said was instituted prior to Rose and Smiley’s shows being canceled.

“In terms of our outside producers and our stations, again, that’s a little more complicated, because they’re separate organizations,” she said. “But I think we can be even clearer on our expectations of how those organizations function. Finally when we are aware of issues, we’ll move quickly, as we did with Charlie Rose, as we did [with] Tavis Smiley.”

Kerger said that PBS first became aware of allegations against Rose the morning that the Washington Post story was published. The process leading to the cancellation of Smiley’s show began with an internal investigation that, Kerger said, was prompted when PBS received a complaint about Smiley.

Smiley has since claimed that he met with PBS executives and attorneys but was not given specific details of the allegations against him.

“That investigation, by the way, included quite a lengthy interview with [Smiley] and was based on multiple allegations of inappropriate behavior as well as his own words about what happened,” Kerger said, factors that “led to the decision to suspend his series.”

As Variety reported last month, investigators hired by PBS took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley’s organization, most of them former staffers.

Rose’s widely distributed talk show ran in most markets at 11 p.m. In the wake of its cancellation, PBS has adopted an interim schedule in the time period that includes Christiane Amanpour’s interview program — also broadcast twice a day on CNN International — at 11 p.m. and the BBC’s “Beyond 100 Days” at 11:30 p.m. Kerger indicated Tuesday that PBS is working toward a permanent plan for the time period, one that may involve Amanpour.

“Charlie Rose was on the air for 25 years,” Kerger said. “I think we have a moment to think very hard about what we want to do at 11 o’clock on public broadcasting, so we’re looking at a lot of different possibilities,” adding that “Christiane Amanpour will be a part” of the options considered.

On Tuesday, PBS announced the launch of an upcoming series “#MeToo, Now What?” focusing on sexual harassment.

“What we’ve observed in the discussions thus far is that there is a lot of discussion about Hollywood and a lot of the stories that continue to mushroom out,” Kerger said. “But it’s a much bigger problem that touches every economic level and every industry.” The new series is intended as “a way to begin talking to one another and begin doing so in real time.”

Kerger also on Tuesday addressed funding for public broadcasting, noting that budget bills in the Senate and the House of Representatives include full or near-full funding. When a final budget is passed, she said, “We are hopeful that it will have full funding for public broadcasting.”

More TV

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

  • Wahlburgers

    'Wahlburgers' Renewed for 10th and Final Season at A&E

    A&E has renewed “Wahlburgers” for a 10th and final season. The reality series following brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg will debut the new installment at on May 15. A&E has also released a trailer for the season. Season 10 will continue to focus on the Wahlberg brothers as they balance family and their eponymous [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    From 'Game of Thrones' to 'Big Bang Theory,' Spinoffs Will Keep the Hits Alive

    By this time next year, many of the brightest lights in the current TV universe will cease to shine. Some of the most popular and acclaimed shows are set to air their swan songs this year and during the 2019-20 broadcast season. While programs come and go all the time, the sheer number of iconic [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    TV Ratings: Jussie Smollett's Final Episode of 'Empire' Season 5 Goes Low

    Last night, Jussie Smollett’s final episode of “Empire” season 5, and potentially his last episode on the show ever, went up in the ratings from previous weeks, but still posted low figures for the series. The episode, in which Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon tied the knot in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, returned a 1.1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content