PBS, Warner Bros. Records launch new record label

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and Warner Bros. Records announced January 8 that they have entered into a five-year record and television program funding partnership. The arrangement launches the PBS Records label, a new venture that will fuel the production of PBS performance programs and companion recordings. In addition, PBS Records will present music soundtracks from major PBS nonfiction series.

The announcement was made by Ervin S. Duggan, PBS president and chief executive officer, at the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour at the Ritz Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. "Our alliance with Warner Bros. Records, one of the most respected music companies in the world, will extend the impact of PBS programming into a new medium," said Mr. Duggan. "PBS Records will not only showcase a diverse group of prominent international artists, but also new musicians who will reach beyond traditional public television audiences."

"PBS and Warner Bros. Records is a perfect match," commented David Altschul, vice chairman at Warner Bros. Records. "An emphasis on quality, a commitment to innovate and explore all aspects of creative expression, a proven appeal to discerning audiences, and the ability to offer and initiate extraordinary musical programming, are all part of our shared vision. With the creation of PBS Records, that vision has a new and exciting focus."

Creative Artists Agency, a literary and talent agency in Hollywood, served as PBS's representative to facilitate the arrangement. Under the terms of the agreement, PBS will commission the production of performance programs by PBS member stations and independent producers for its centerpiece National Program Service.

PBS will also license the use of its logo to create the PBS Records label jointly with Warner Bros. Records. In return, Warner Bros. Records will fund two music specials and companion CDs per year over five years, plus additional recordings for other PBS programs. The resulting CDs will be distributed by WEA, Inc., Warner Bros. Records' distribution arm, and by PBS.

Although no projects or artists have yet been selected for PBS Records' debut, Ann Blakey, PBS vice president of licensing and distribution, said the two companies hope to duplicate the recent success of such PBS programs as Great Performances: "Les MisTrables" in Concert, Riverdance, and Fleetwood Mac: An "In the Spotlight" Special. The agreement will not encompass children's projects; PBS is currently seeking a separate partner for a specialized children's music label.

Previous report from Stereophile online.