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Public Broadcasting at 50

Recommended Viewing from the Library of Congress

Washington, DC – The Library of Congress and Boston public broadcaster WGBH celebrated the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 with a series of panels featuring pioneers and experts in public broadcasting Friday, Nov. 3, 2 –6 p.m. The symposium — “Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years” — was held in the Montpelier room on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, D.C.

The event also was livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at http://facebook.com/libraryofcongress and its YouTube site (with captions) at http://youtube.com/LibraryOfCongress.

Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the act established public broadcasting as it is organized today and also authorized the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to establish and maintain a library and archives of non-commercial educational television and radio programs. CPB established the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) in 2009 and, in 2013, the Library of Congress and WGBH assumed responsibility of AAPB, coordinating a national effort to preserve and make accessible significant at-risk public media.

A Library report on television and video preservation in 1997 cited the importance of public broadcasting: “[I]t is still not easy to overstate the immense cultural value of this unique audiovisual legacy, whose loss would symbolize one of the great conflagrations of our age, tantamount to the burning of Alexandria’s library in the age of antiquity.”

The initial AAPB archive, donated by more than 100 public broadcasting stations, contained more than 40,000 hours of content from the early 1950s to the present. The full collection, now more than 50,000 hours of preserved content, is available on-site to researchers at the Library in Washington, D.C., and WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. Nearly a third of the files, however, are now available online for research, educational and informational purposes at americanarchive.org.

During the symposium, panelists will examine the history of public broadcasting, the origins of its news and public affairs programming, the importance of preservation and the educational uses of public broadcasting programs for K-12 and college education, scholarship and adult education. Also highlighted will be some of AAPB’s most significant collections, such as the “PBS NewsHour” and its predecessors, which are currently being digitized for online access, and full interviews conducted for “Eyes on the Prize” and “American Experience” documentaries.

Program schedule

2 p.m. – Introductions and Welcoming Remarks
Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
Jon Abbott, President and CEO, WGBH
Patricia Harrison, President and CEO, CPB
Sen. Ed Markey, AAPB adviser

2:15 p.m. – Origins
Nicholas Johnson, FCC commissioner, 1966-73
Bill Siemering, NPR co-founder, creator of “All Things Considered”
Newton Minow, FCC chairman, 1961-63, via video
Cokie Roberts, NPR and MacNeil/Lehrer contributor; AAPB adviser (moderator)

3:10 p.m. – News and Public Affairs Talk Shows
Jim Lehrer, co-anchor, “MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour”
Dick Cavett, host of “The Dick Cavett Show,” 1977-1982
Cokie Roberts, NPR and MacNeil/Lehrer contributor; AAPB adviser
Hugo Morales, co-founder, Radio Bilingüe
Sharon Percy Rockefeller, CEO, WETA-TV
Judy Woodruff, “PBS NewsHour” (moderator)

4:10 p.m. – Documentaries: Style and the Use of Archives
David Fanning, creator, “Frontline”
Clayborne Carson, founder and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute; senior adviser, “Eyes on the Prize”
Stephen Gong, director, Center for Asian American Media
Margaret Drain, former executive producer of “American Experience”
Patricia Aufderheide, university professor of Communication Studies at American University (moderator)

5:10 p.m. – Educational Uses of Public Broadcasting
Lloyd Morrisett, co-creator, “Sesame Street”
Paula Apsell, executive producer of “Nova”
Kathryn Ostrofsky, instructor, Angelo State University, Department of History
Jennifer Lawson, founding chief programming executive, PBS (moderator)

WGBH Boston is America’s pre-eminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the web, including “Masterpiece,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Frontline,” “Nova,” “American Experience,” “Arthur,” “Curious George” and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH also is a leader in educational multimedia, including PBS LearningMedia, and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards, and two Oscars. Find more information at http://wgbh.org.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

Key Links
https://www.loc.gov/item/prn-17-142

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