PBS CEO Pat Mitchell Charts Course for a Stronger, More Secure Public Broadcasting Service
A summary of Mitchell's remarks from the PBS Showcase in Las Vegas, NV on April 11, 2005
Public service media, dedicated to content that informs and engages, has never been more essential, especially in a democratic country committed to sharing its democratic values to the rest of the world.
Americans agree with us that PBS is not only a viable option but one that they still choose twice as often every night as any cable channel. PBS audiences have increased this year; all commercial broadcasters and most cable channels lost viewers.
This year we have acted swiftly and more resolutely than ever before, particularly to secure new resources, to enable us to fulfill the expectations and the needs of a public, changing in their media habits as rapidly now as the media itself is changing. One example of this is PBS' partnership with Comcast, HIT and Sesame workshop to launch the new VOD and cable service, PBS KIDS Sprout. This partnership will ensure that one of our strongest, most valued areas of content is also available in the new, multi-platform, media-on-demand world and, for the first time, PBS and stations could see the kind of significant return on investment that will be used to strengthen the children's schedule on every public television station.
To ensure a stronger, more secure future, PBS must focus on several priorities:
- Development of a new and standard-setting educational children's program strategy for preschoolers and expanding our reach to older kids with a new digital service built on the success of PBS Kids GO.
- Implementation of digital technologies to meet age-specific learning that addresses the much-needed gaps in our country in math and science education.
- Renewal of the Ready to Learn Partnership with the Department of Education. We agree with the Department's mission to leave no child behind, and we believe we are the best prepared, the most experienced, offer the best producers and the most dedicated Ready to Learn staffs all over this country to ensure that we don't leave a child, a parent, or caregiver behind and that we offer every child in this country a step forward through educationally based media backed by research and measured for effectiveness.
- Creation of a plan for the future that includes new sources of revenue including a national fund for special initiatives and services managed by the newly created PBS Foundation in alliance with stations and producers and in alignment with PBS Content strategies developed in consultation with stations and producers.
Challenges to public broadcasting's role as an independent, politically neutral, public service media enterprise whose mission is to inform and engage, to offer the great diversity of opinions and perspectives that make up the communities we serve, must be met with resounding evidence that public broadcasting is an open forum, and as such, increasingly essential to meet the needs of citizens in a democracy.
We must move forward from this meeting with a clear and compelling message that public broadcasting is not only still relevant and highly valued by millions of Americans, but that we must be better resourced in order to meet the opportunities ahead.