PBS says it will postpone airing the third season of its genealogy series Finding Your Roots until new measures are implemented to ensure the program's accuracy and integrity.
The decision was announced Wednesday after the network concluded its internal review regarding Ben Affleck's episode of the show, which aired last October. In April, the media reported on hacked, private email exchanges between Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. -- the show's host and executive producer -- and Sony Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton, referencing requests by Affleck to omit from the episode the fact that slave ownership is part of his family history.
These reports marked the first time that either PBS or WNET -- the producing station for the first two seasons of the program -- learned of Affleck's request.
PBS and WNET have determined that the series co-producers -- Inkwell Films, Gates' company, and Kunhardt McGee Productions -- violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Affleck's efforts to affect program content.
PBS said it has apprised WETA, the producing station for the third season of the series, of its findings. The network said an additional researcher/fact-checker is being hired for the show's staff and an independent genealogist will be employed to review all versions of program episodes for factual accuracy.
PBS will also withdraw Affleck's episode from all forms of distribution, including on-air, digital platforms and home video.
"Editorial integrity is essential to PBS. As a mission-driven media enterprise, we know that earning and keeping the trust of the American public are our most important priorities," Beth Hoppe, PBS Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming, said in a statement. "The co-producers of Finding Your Roots have a strong track record of creating high-quality programming for PBS over many years. Improved editorial and production processes will ensure that all future projects will adhere to PBS' editorial guidelines."