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Shapiro Named President Of Educational Broadcasting Corporation

Shapiro Named President Of Educational Broadcasting CorporationFormer NBC News President Neal Shapiro, a 1980 graduate of Tufts University, was recently tapped to head the nonprofit Educational Broadcasting Corporation.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.24.06] Tufts graduate Neal Shapiro, who stepped down from his position as head of NBC News in 2005, will become the next president and CEO of the Educational Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), a New York City-based nonprofit public television company. Shapiro, who earned degrees in history and political science from Tufts in 1980, will join EBC next month and take over as its president in 2008.

“I look forward to exploring ways to make their unique programs and services even stronger, and to help them create exciting new content for national public television audiences, as well as local programming that reflects the fascinating and diverse area in which we live,” Shapiro said in a statement.

EBC is the parent company of New York’s public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21, both of which produce programming for the national Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). In an interview with The New York Times, Shapiro said that he is excited about the move from commercial to public television.

Public television enjoys “a certain freedom without commercials,” he told the Times. “I’m not going to have to agonize about losing a 10th of a rating point in adults 18 to 49 in the second half hour.”

Thirteen/WNET—which produces series such as American Masters, The Charlie Rose Show and Nature—is currently the nation’s most-watched public television station. Shapiro told the Times that he looks forward to helping the organization’s programming grow.

“I think they have a lot of great franchises,” Shapiro told the newspaper. “But like all franchises, there is always room to innovate, to improve them, to make them better. But it is reassuring to start with a baseline of quality.”

The desire to take on new, more creative challenges is what prompted Shapiro to resign from his post at NBC News in September 2005. USA Today reported that in an e-mail to his staff announcing his departure, Shapiro wrote that he missed "the opportunity for the kind of creativity I've had in previous jobs.”

According to the Times, Shapiro’s vast experience in commercial television was part of what won him the job at EBC. Prior to serving as president of NBC News, Shapiro worked as a special segment producer for ABC’s World News Tonight, a broadcast producer for ABC’s PrimeTime Live and an executive producer for Dateline NBC. During his time at Dateline, the news program garnered more than 25 Emmys as well as 19 Edward R. Murrow Awards and three Columbia-duPont Awards for distinguished journalism.

“The decision to choose a candidate from commercial television—and one with experience in programming, not fund-raising—reflects the reality of the intense, fast-changing competition that public broadcasting faces,” the Times reported.

Shapiro, who was honored with Tufts’ “Light on the Hill” award in 2002, admitted to the Times that on-air fund-raising—a common practice in the public television environment—is one area where he’ll have to sharpen his skills.

“I’ve won a lot of Emmys but I don’t think I’ll win one more for best on-air fund-raising,” Shapiro told the Times. He added that he expects it to “be fun.”

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