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PBS to get religion, starting this summer

Originally published in Current, Feb. 2, 1997

A weekly news program reporting on religion and ethics will join the PBS lineup this summer. Veteran NBC newsman Bob Abernethy is host and executive editor of Religion Newsweekly (working title), which will debut with 39 half-hour programs in its first season.

The Lily Endowment, an Indianapolis-based foundation specializing in causes that advance religion, education and community development, fully underwrote the program with two grants totalling $5 million. This commitment is one of the largest that the endowment has made to a single religion-based project, according to a press release.

Abernethy will lead a team of correspondents reporting on breaking news through live and taped pieces. Other elements of the program include newsmaker interviews, explorations of major religion and ethics issues, personal profiles, and reviews of religion-related books, movies and music.

Abernethy, whose production firm is making the series with WNET, New York, specializes in religion as a contributing correspondent for NBC. During the collapse of communism, 1989-94, he was the network's Moscow correspondent.

Chris Koch, former executive producer for public TV's Inside Story and NPR's All Things Considered is executive producer. Herbert Kaplow, a news veteran of both ABC and NBC, is senior editorial consultant.

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Related news: Religious news program is part of a crowd of new programs coming from rejuvenated WNET production operation.

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