PBS Orders Political Docuseries, Partners With NPR on Election Coverage

'16 for '16' will look back at past memorable election moments and includes guests such as Sarah Palin and Howard Dean.
Noel Vasquez/Getty Images; Brad Barket/Getty Images for GLG

PBS is ramping up its political coverage.

The network has ordered a new docuseries, 16 for '16 (working title), that centers on past presidential and vice presidential candidates that have made a impact, it was announced Monday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour.

The weekly half-hour series will consist of 16 installments and will air leading up to the Nov. 8 general election. The series will welcome guests including Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Gary Hart, Michael Dukakis and Geraldine Ferraro, among others. Other featured candidates will include Al Gore, Mitt Romney, Ted Kennedy, Ralph Nader and Ross Perot. The project is directed by is directed and produced by Cameo George and Alan Chebot from Ozy Media.

“Every four years, we are introduced to a group of individuals with their own aspirations to leave a mark on the history of our country,” Beth Hoppe, PBS' chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming, said. “16 for ’16 revisits the most compelling stories from previous elections to demonstrate how every U.S. presidential election is a reflection, and an inflection, of those that came before it.”

Additionally, PBS announced a new partnership with National Public Radio in advance of the upcoming presidential election. The joint effort will allow both outlets to share digital, video and audio content in the months leading up to the presidential election. In February, PBS will launch a new elections-focused digital destination on PBS.org that will include content from NPR. NPR will also add PBS content into the politics section of its website.

“In this election year, PBS promises viewers extensive, in-depth and thoughtful coverage across all platforms,” Hoppe said. “Our roster of signature programs, specials and online offerings will deliver fully integrated news and analysis from multiple perspectives.”

Added NPR svp news and editorial director Michael Oreskes: “We have an anxious country seeking to pick a new president. There are few tasks more important this election year than giving the country the news coverage, information and conversation to help make sound choices. NPR and PBS share that mission of producing trusted, thoughtful public service journalism to inform the American public. Partnering with PBS and working with our member stations, we will provide a forum for a national conversation about politics that goes from the local grassroots perspective our on-the-ground reporters provide, to analysis and context.”

The announcement comes as PBS prepares to host its first primary debate on Feb. 11. PBS Newshour's Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will moderate the democratic debate. Election coverage, particularly debate telecasts, have proved a ratings boon for both cable networks like Fox News and CNN, as well as networks like NBC, which drew 10.2 million viewers for Sunday's democratic debate. Showtime also entered the political arena Sunday with the premiere of the new campaign docuseries The Circus.