MITCHELL ANNOUNCES NEW PBS INITIATIVES AT PUBLIC TELEVISION FORUM HELD BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
[Full text of Ms. Mitchell's keynote address]
CHICAGO, IL (December 2, 2004) - Citing 2005 as a transformational year for public television, Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS, opened today's forum stating that securing supplemental sources of revenue for public television is central to the long term ability of PBS to provide quality programming and educational content for the next generation of Americans. Ms. Mitchell gave the keynote address at a forum on "The Future of Public Television," a two-day conference being held at the Museum of Contemporary Art by the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the McCormack Tribune Foundation and the Irving V. Harris Foundation.
Ms. Mitchell's theme was the critical role PBS and its 349 member stations play in the media landscape today as the antidote to media consolidation, as an entity designed to create an informed citizenry rather than to deliver consumers to advertisers.
She said, "No other media enterprise is better poised to illuminate the complex issues of our times, to explore what's at stake in terms of the environment, health care, welfare, education, governance at every level, than public service media, which belongs to the public and is accountable only to the public."
She outlined her ambitious vision for PBS on how to sustain the mission of providing educational, informative and enriching programming and educational services to the American public. Mitchell emphasized three important components of her plan: to build upon PBS' content - its formidable primetime and children's programming; to utilize new technologies and create partnerships to extend public television's reach to the American public on new platforms and most importantly, to secure current funding as well as additional revenue sources to ensure a sustainable future.
Ms. Mitchell cited examples of the innovations already underway with the recently announced partnership with Sesame Street, HIT and Comcast for a digital and VOD children's service.
She also announced the Enhanced Funding Initiative, led by a panel of prominent national thought-leaders that have been assembled to explore and report on how to best increase sustainable and renewable sources of funding for public television. The goal of the dialogue is to develop a report, and potentially create a new proposal on how funding for public broadcasting can be increased to match modern funding needs.
Mitchell noted that market forces - namely media consolidation, the digital transition and resulting analog spectrum auction - make this the most opportune time in a generation to realistically advance a proposal for a supplemental funding mechanism.
Leading the non-partisan panel are former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt and former CEO of Netscape James Barksdale. The National Policy Committee of PBS' Board, which is chaired by American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Norm Ornstein and Shiloh Group President & CEO Tom Wheeler, will oversee the effort and receive a report at the end of the process. The national public broadcasting organizations the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) and National Public Radio (NPR) will each participate through a board member. The group will also be hearing from public interest groups and other interested parties.
Participants will review research and gather information on various approaches to enhancing funding for public television, including the feasibility of building a federal trust fund based on the proceeds of early-returned analog spectrum from public television stations to add to the current federal funding mix but will also consider other options.
The results of the meetings will be compiled into a report that will analyze current funding models, examine one or more potential solutions for bolstering funding, and describe how such a proposal would be executed. The process will start this month and run approximately three to six months.
The process is funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation intended to help PBS construct planning models for the future.
Mitchell noted, "I think it's time to ask the question: are we as a society going to make the commitment we need to make to sustain a vibrant public service media enterprise, to allow it to become even more relevant and valued in the digital age?"
PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 349 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet, averaging more than 30 million unique visits and 380 million page views per month in 2004. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.
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Electronic copies of Ms. Mitchell's speech are available. Please contact:
Lea Sloan, PBS Media Relations, 703/739-5021; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jan McNamara, PBS Media Relations, 703-739-5028; email@example.com
The Enhanced Funding Initiative Panel
James Barksdale, President and CEO of Barksdale Management Corporation
Reed Hundt, Senior Advisor, McKinsey and Company
Kermit Boston, APTS board member, chair of KQED board
Mimi Dawson, Senior Public Policy Consultant, Wiley Rein and Fielding
Ken Duberstein, Chairman and CEO, The Duberstein Group
Sally Field, entertainer
Bruce Haines, Vice Chairman of the NPR board, General Manager Northeast Indiana Public Radio
Marilyn Carlson Nelson, White House Women's Business Council, CEO Carlson Companies
Norm Ornstein, AEI, PBS board member/co-chair of National Policy Committee
Hugh Price, Of Counsel, Piper Rudnick
Claudia Puig, CPB board member, Sr. Vice President/Southeastern Regional Manager of Univision Radio
Jim Rothenberg, Chair of KCET Board, CEO of Capital Research and Management Company
Ex Officio Members:
Alberto Ibarguen, chair of PBS board
Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS
Michael Calabrese, New America Foundation (Project Director)
Note: Additional panelists to be confirmed