Moyers reverses decision to end show, which goes to 30 minutes in January

By Dru Sefton

BOSTON — Bill Moyers, the journalist and veteran PBS personality who has come out of retirement at least twice to mount new weekly productions, announced Friday that he will be back in January with a 30-minute show.

Three weeks ago, Moyers announced his decision to end production of Moyers & Company early next year, citing the end of two-year funding commitments. But the response from viewers and underwriters prompted him to reconsider, according to Executive Producer Judy Doctoroff, who spoke to public TV programmers during American Public Television’s Fall Marketplace. APT, which is showcasing new program offerings for local pubTV stations this week, distributes the series nationally.

Moyers’ production team had already floated their proposal to keep the show going with station-based programmers, Doctoroff said in an interview. By trimming the weekly program’s length from 60 minutes to 30,  Moyers will be able to maintain his presence on broadcast TV and the web while reducing his workload, she said. “And the stations have been saying for years that we should consider a half-hour format.”

In letter to client stations, Moyers said he didn’t anticipate the response to his earlier announcement. His website and Facebook pages received “thousands of well-written and heartfelt messages.”

“Read those and you realize the outpouring is not about me,” Moyers wrote. ” It is unmistakably about the importance of public broadcasting and what they’re telling us is, they count on us – and us includes you – to offer them a place for sanity and civility where they can reflect on what is going on in the world.”

Sponsors also encouraged Moyers to keep going, “and they have backed those pleas with commitments of underwriting,” he wrote.

Several underwriters are now finalizing new one-year contracts, Doctoroff said. And some station-based programmers have indicated that they plan to pair the new 30-minute broadcast with PBS NewsHour, also 30 minutes long.

The last hourlong edition of Moyers & Company will air Jan. 3, 2014, with the half-hour show coming Jan. 10.

Fall Marketplace continues through Saturday.

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