PBS America, the new British television channel from America’s Public Broadcasting Service, has reinforced its fledgling acquisitions strategy by securing a raft of high-profile content – including the world premiere of WGBH’s JFK and the UK television premiere of Ken Burns’ theatrically released The Central Park Five.
To buoy its Autumn 2013 schedule, the channel – which recently moved slots on the Sky platform to now sit in the Documentaries section at channel 534 – has acquired a total of 88 hours of factual programming across six separate deals.
Their is 40 hours of content from PBS International, 24 hours from Off The Fence, eight hours from Content Media, six hours from Electric Sky and five hours from both TVF International and Cineflix Rights. These follow PBS America’s entry into the UK acquisitions market this spring, first with OTF and then BBC Worldwide, with deals for 22 and 23 hours respectively.
Our ambition is to make PBS America the destination for viewers to indulge in Americana; how America came to be, its great cities and landscapes, its cultural jewels and the quirky modern tales that make it unique. This autumn, a strong schedule from PBS supplemented with an eclectic range of acquisitions will help us build that reputation. – Richard Kingsbury, General Manager of PBS America
With the channel’s primary focus being American History, PBS America has secured high profile titles including these highlights:
WGBH’s probing documentary JFK provides a fresh look at the enigmatic John F Kennedy, who remains one of America’s most beloved and mourned leaders. The sickly second son of one of the wealthiest men in America, this film which gets its World Premiere with PSB America, explores his early political career as a lacklustre congressman, his successful run for the US senate and the game-changing presidential campaign that made him the youngest elected president in US history.
The four part series airs from the 12th of November at 9pm
What began as a broadcast performance of HG Wells’ fantasy, The War of the Worlds – 75 years ago to the day – turned into one of the biggest mass hysteria events in US history. The hour-long War of the Worlds has its UK premiere on October 30th. This film examines the elements that created this frenzy, including America’s longtime fascination with life on Mars.
The War of the Worlds, 9pm October 30th.
In The Central Park Five, a two part series, the documentary by Ken Burns tells the story of a horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamouring for sensational stories, an outraged public, and the five lives upended by a gross miscarriage of justice. The hour long programmes were officially selected by both the 2012 Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.
The series gets its UK television premiere at 9pm on October the 22nd and 23rd.
Narrated by Meryl Streep and featuring Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gloria Steinem, Makers: Women Who Make America is a three part landmark series which tells the story of the women’s movement through the firsthand accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century.
Makers: Women Who Make America airs from 9pm on the 4th of October.
PBS America is a top 100 ranking channel in the UK. In June 2013 the broadcaster enjoyed its highest share since launch, up from 0.019% share for June 2012 to 0.039% share for June 2013.