MacNeil-Lehrer Prods., owner and co-producer of PBS NewsHour, is in talks with Washington D.C. public TV station WETA about taking it over. The station already is the co-producing partner of the program currently owned by the production company founded by its original anchors, Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil. These days, MacNeil/Lehrer Productions is majority owned by Liberty Media, notes The New York Times. WETA’s maybe best known as the home of Ken Burns. This summer, NewsHour named Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill co-anchors of the weekday program and Hari Sreenivasan anchor of a new weekend edition produced by New York’s public TV station WNET. That move came weeks after some NewsHour staff was laid off and domestic bureaus shut.
Judy Woodruff, half of PBS’ newly named NewsHour co-host team came to TCA to dispel the notion that her pairing with Gwen Ifill was historic. “We’re not the first,” Woodruff said via Skype. “Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were the first female co-anchors.” Ifill, appearing via satellite said, “here, right now, it’s news. We would like for the day to come when it’s not news any more…but [viewers] don’t see it every day right now.” The start date of their pairing has not yet been set but they’re shooting for mid-September, they said.
Hari Sreenivasan, who will anchor a weekend edition of NewsHour, starting September 7, said the first 15 minutes of each half-hour edition will handle breaking news at the top of each broadcast and “more like a magazine” later in the program. The half-hour format works because NewsHour Weekend won’t have to deal with Saturday and Sunday football overruns. “Fortunately we’re not competing … with the sports team at PBS,” he joked.
PBS this morning named Gwin Ifill and Judy Woodruff — the stars of its most recent presidential election coverage – co-anchors and managing editors of Newshour. It marks the first time two women are co-anchoring the evening newscast on a major US television network, PBS chief Paula Kerger noted at Summer TV Press Tour 2013, then said she “almost” paused in drawing attention to that factoid, because, “we picked the two people that were strongest.” Ifill and Woodruff will anchor the broadcast together Monday through Thursday; Woodruff will solo Fridays while Ifill hosts Washington Week that night. Newshour has had rotating teams of anchors over the past few years; Ifill and Woodruff were in the rotation. PBS will launch a weekend edition of Newshour next month. Hari Sreenivasan will anchor Newshour Weekend, Saturdays and Sundays beginning September 7; he also will serve as senior correspondent for the weekday newscast, reporting several times a week from WNET in New York.