James F. Blue III Named Head of Smithsonian Channel

Smithsonian Channel James F. Blue III
James F. Blue III will head Smithsonian Channel (Image credit: Smithsonian Channel)

James F. Blue III was named senior VP and head of the Smithsonian Channel, part of ViacomCBS’ MTV Entertainment Group.

Blue, who had been a producer at PBS NewsHour, will also oversee all factual unscripted content for MTV Entertainment’s brands.

He will report to Chris McCarthy, president, MTV Entertainment Group and Nina L. Diaz, president of content and chief creative officer.

Smithsonian president Tom Hayden was dismissed in April amid reorganizations following the merger of Viacom and CBS at the end of 2019.

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“Smithsonian is a world-class brand rich with treasures from our shared American experience,” said McCarthy. “James is an exceptionally talented executive and incredible storyteller who will bring those iconic treasures and experiences to life across all of our platforms.”

Working in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, Blue is expected to expand and diversify Smithsonian Channel’s content offerings. His oversight will also include experiential and event programming. 

Blue oversaw PBS NewsHour specials and managed several NewsHour reporting initiatives. During the 2012 election cycle, Blue was an executive producer for BET Networks’ political broadcasts. From 2006 to 2009, he served as a producer in the Koppel Group at the Discovery Channel. 

His work has won eight national Emmy awards; two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Awards; five George Foster Peabody Awards; two Overseas Press Club Awards; the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism; and the NABJ Award for Overall Excellence.“

"MTV Entertainment has an extraordinarily talented team, and I am thrilled to be joining them,” said Blue. “I look forward to leveraging my expertise and experience to help shape and implement MTV Entertainment’s strategic vision for Smithsonian and other news, factual and non-fiction content across, and even beyond, the Group’s platforms.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.