People/Biz

PBS appoints new programming VPs

PBS has appointed two new programming VPs as part of its ongoing restructure, with former Discovery Studios executive producer Beth Hoppe among the arrivals at the U.S. pubcaster.
August 5, 2011

PBS has appointed two new programming VPs as part of its ongoing restructure, with former Discovery Studios executive producer Beth Hoppe among the arrivals at the U.S. pubcaster.

Hoppe and Donald Thoms are joining PBS staff at the end of this month and on August 8 respectively, both serving as VP of programming for general audience. Thoms was most recently president of ThomsMediaGroup, and in the past served as VP of program production at DiscoveryHealth Channel.

Their appointments follow the departure of programming VPs Steven Gray and Sandy Heberer, as revealed earlier this week by realscreen, although a PBS spokesperson said the new VPs would be taking on slightly different roles from the ones undertaken by the departing programming duo.

Gray and Heberer’s exits came as part of a round of cuts that hit 13 staff and saw eight vacant posts scrapped, with six new ones created.

In a statement, PBS said the new arrivals “will help implement PBS’ primetime content strategy, a multi-year effort to strengthen the organization’s primetime lineup and deliver on its ongoing commitment to serve the American people with outstanding content that reflects the high quality and diversity of perspective that viewers expect from PBS.”

Both VPs will report to John F Wilson, PBS’s senior VP and chief TV programming executive. PBS chief operating officer Michael Jones said Thoms and Hoppe are both “smart, talented individuals who truly understand public television and have excellent experience in content development for a variety of distributors and audiences.

“I know they will be assets to PBS, our member stations and the public media system as a whole.”

Prior to working with Discovery Studios, where she developed the series Human Nature and other projects, Hoppe was president and CEO of Optomen Productions, where she oversaw programs for Animal Planet, Discovery, Food Network and PBS from 2004 to 2009.

From 1998 to 2004 she served as director of science programs for PBS member station Thirteen/WNET New York, and from 1989 to 1998 worked on the flagship PBS science strand ‘NOVA.’

“I am delighted to be returning to public television, where the top goals are quality and excellence,” she said. “Joining PBS feels like a homecoming, giving me the chance to really focus on what I love to do – help get fantastic programming to a growing audience.”

PBS added that the new execs will be responsible for finding “new ways of engaging audiences across platforms, refreshing existing programs and, as appropriate, commissioning new programs.”

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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