Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act
The Library of Congress and WGBH will celebrate 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 p.m. - 6 p.m. The symposium—“Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years”—will be 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 is free, but tickets are required and there may be special restrictions. To secure tickets, visit this event-ticketing site: https://preservingat50.eventbrite.com/.
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 http://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.
The program schedule is subject to change, but confirmed participants include:
2 p.m. – Introductions and Welcoming Remarks
- Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress
- Jon Abbott, President and CEO, WGBH
- Patricia Harrison, President and CEO, CPB
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
- Ervin Duggan, FCC commissioner (1990-93); President of PBS (1993-99)
- 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
- Debra Sanchez, Senior Vice President for Education and Children's Content Operations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- Kathryn Ostrofsky, instructor, Angelo State University, Department of History
- Jennifer Lawson, founding chief programming executive, PBS (moderator)