Playing By The Rules: Ethics at Work (Season 2)

Air date: 10/02/2018

Business Ethics Series Playing by the Rules: Ethics at Work, Hosted By The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar, Returns to Public Television for Season Two Beginning October 2 (check local listings)

(New York, NY – October 2, 2018) Ethical decision-making is a critical skill in the modern workplace, but one that can be difficult to understand, complex to navigate, and full of murky areas and dilemmas for people looking to do the right thing. Addressing those challenges, WNET, parent company of New York’s PBS stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21, and operator of NJTV, premieres season two of the documentary series Playing by the Rules: Ethics at Work beginning Tuesday, October 2 nationwide on public television (check local listings). In New York, the series premieres on Thursdays, October 11-October 25 at 8:30 p.m. on WLIW and Sundays, October 14-October 28 at 7:30 p.m. on THIRTEEN.

Hosted by The New Yorker staff writer and former hedge fund analyst Sheelah Kolhatkar, Playing by the Rules explores how good ethics are essential to good business by investigating three recent corporate controversies through original reporting and analysis from prominent business ethicists. Taking viewers behind-the-scenes, Playing by the Rules vividly illustrates how corporate culture can either help a company succeed or fail.

Episode 1: Engine Trouble

In the early 2000s, the German automaker Volkswagen set an ambitious goal: to become the world’s largest car company. The key to its plan was to dramatically boost sales in the United States by developing a new, clean-burning diesel engine for cars sold in America. Instead, that effort would result in the biggest scandal in the history of the auto industry. Playing by the Rules follows the VW emissions scandal to reveal how the hubris of senior executives, unclear ethical guidelines and the practice of punishing failure created an environment in which cheating thrived – and led to an elaborate cover-up once regulators started asking questions.

Episode 2: The Bank Job

Wells Fargo liked to think of itself as America’s main street banker. Nearly all are familiar with its iconic red wagon and the catchy song that celebrates the company. But behind that friendly image was a secret. In an effort to boost its bottom line and its reputation on Wall Street, Wells Fargo preyed on millions of ordinary customers – fraudulently opening accounts in their names, selling them unnecessary car insurance and charging them fees for delays which were the bank’s fault – actions which recently led to a fine of $1 billion. Playing by the Rules talks with several former Wells’ employees about the corporate culture which led to the scandal, including how complaints to management about what was going on fell on deaf ears.

Episode 3: Taking Advantage

Medicare Advantage, a system run by private insurance companies, is an alternative to traditional Medicare. Originally conceived as a way to rein in healthcare costs, the federal government now pays Medicare Advantage companies nearly $200 billion per year to cover some 19 million seniors. Yet, according to one government analysis, nearly 10% of the payments to those private insurance companies are “improper.” It’s suspected many of those improper payments are the result of fraud. Several whistleblower lawsuits have alleged that some of America’s biggest insurance companies are have defrauded the Medicare Advantage program of billions, all part of the companies business models. Playing by the Rules investigates the business practices said to be behind the alleged fraud.

Playing by the Rules: Ethics at Work is a production of WLIW LLC for WNET. Bryan Myers  is the series producer and director. Diane Masciale is vice president and general manager of WLIW and executive producer of local production, including the Playing by the Rules series. Stephen Segaller is executive in charge. Distributed nationally by American Public Television.

Major funding for Playing by the Rules: Ethics at Work was provided by Ronnie and Lawrence D. Ackman. Additional funding was provided by Janet Prindle Seidler, Lawrence and Alice Friedland, Edward and Joan Cohen, David Klafter and Nancy Kestenbaum, James and Barbara Korein, and Susan and Elihu Rose.


About WNET

WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, home to ALL ARTS.  WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (THIRTEEN PBSKids, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, the new nightly interview program Amanpour and Company and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history experience. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique issues and culture through NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, NYC-ARTS, Treasures of New York, Theater Close-Up, and WLIW Arts Beat. WNET creates online-only programming, including the award-winning series about gender identity, First Person. Through multi-platform initiatives Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America and Peril and Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change, WNET showcases the human stories around these issues and promising solutions.  The weekly program SciTech Now explores the nexus of new ideas in science and technology.  Through THIRTEEN Passport and WLIW Passport, station members can stream new and archival THIRTEEN, WLIW and PBS programming anytime, anywhere.

About APT

American Public Television (APT) is the leading syndicator of high-quality, top-rated programming to the nation’s public television stations. Founded in 1961, APT distributes 250 new program titles per year and one-fourth of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles in the U.S. APT’s diverse catalog includes prominent documentaries, performance, news and current affairs programs, dramas, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s IllustratedCook’s CountryAfroPoPRick Steves’ EuropeChris Kimball’s Milk Street TelevisionFront and CenterDoc MartinNightly Business ReportMidsomer MurdersA Place to Call HomeLidia’s KitchenGlobe Trekker, New Orleans Cooking With Kevin BeltonSimply Ming, and P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home are a sampling of APT’s programs, considered some of the most popular on public television. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service and distributes Create®TV — featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming — and WORLD™, public television’s premier news, science and documentary channel. To find out more about APT’s programs and services, visit

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Sheelah Kolhatkar, host of Playing by the Rules. Credit: WLIW LLC/Joseph Sinnott