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Bugg named PBS programming boss

US public service broadcaster PBS has promoted Sylvia Bugg to chief programming executive and general manager for general audience programming.

Sylvia Bugg

Bugg takes on the new role immediately and reports to PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger. Bugg replaces Perry Simon, who held the position for two years before leaving PBS this summer.

Bugg will oversee all non-children’s content and lead PBS’s programming strategy across its broadcast and digital platforms. She will also be responsible for the acquisition and development of programming for PBS and its member stations, with a particular focus on important stories that reflect US diversity.

The exec previously served as VP of general audience programming, overseeing the PBS editorial team and leading strategy across all genres, including news, public affairs, documentaries, history, science, natural history and arts.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Bugg and the PBS programming team have restructured the network’s daytime and primetime schedules to prioritise educational and cultural programmes.

Bugg also played a leading role in leveraging public television’s national platform to support the conversation around race in the US, PBS said.

Working with internal and external stakeholders, she shifted PBS’s broadcast and streaming content offerings to include the re-broadcast of films focused on African American history by Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr and Stanley Nelson.

This came in addition to a curated list of programmes from Frontline, POV, Independent Lens and PBS Newshour.

“At a time when the work of public television is more important than ever, Sylvia is the ideal leader to take on this critical role. Throughout her impressive career, she has brought an extraordinary portfolio of programming to audiences across America, and she has been a passionate champion for PBS and our member stations,” said Kerger.

Prior to joining PBS, Bugg served as VP of diversity and TV content at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

In this role, she provided strategic leadership and was responsible for CPB’s efforts to advance diversity across public media through the collaboration and support of content creators, distributors and partnering organisations.

Her other previous positions at PBS include director of general audience programming, where she led efforts to develop a portfolio of drama, performance and cultural programmes.

She also held several programming roles in history and public affairs at the broadcaster. Prior to joining PBS, Bugg spent 12 years in programming, production and operations for several Discovery Communications networks.

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