History of public broadcasting

Current’s concise history
of public broadcasting

Cover of bookOur expanded 2000 version of A History of Public Broadcasting will soon be out of print.

Single copies are available for a limited time at $5 each, with no extra charge for shipping, but only a few books remain as of Aug. 15, 2008.

If you'd like to buy single or bulk copies in the future, please respond to the questions at right.

The book contains eight chapters published in 1987 by public broadcasting veterans John Witherspoon and Roselle Kovitz plus a three-chapter update, added in 2000, by Robert K. Avery of the University of Utah and Alan G. Stavitsky of the University of Oregon.

A concise resource on public broadcasting’s development, purposes, principles and its potential — 138 pages with dozens of photos, timeline, bibliography and index.

The book is supplemented by our website Public Broadcasting PolicyBase, compiled in partnership with the National Public Broadcasting Archives, which gives you easy web access to texts of the legislation, studies and court verdicts that define public broadcasting.

To order

Mail your check (payable to Current)
or purchase order to:

History Book
6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 350
Takoma Park, MD 20912

(Sorry, we can invoice only orders of
more than $100.)

Or order by phone or fax, giving your credit card number.

Phone: 301-270-7240, ext. 38
Fax: 301-270-7241

We recommend against sending your credit card number by e-mail.

Price (including shipping and handling)

$5 each

Retailers: For obvious economic reasons, we cannot refund payments for returned books if you buy them at these low prices, which barely cover shipping costs. If you wish to retain the right to return unsold books, the price is our original publication price, $12 each.

Web page posted Aug. 15, 2008
Copyright 2006 by Current LLC

After 8 years, the latest printing of the book will soon be sold out

If you are interested in buying copies of the book in the future, please respond by e-mail ( ) to several questions:

* Would your needs be satisfied well, somewhat or not at all by online republication of the book in PDF form, permitting you to print out copies of chapters or whole copies as needed?

* Any new edition would include an extended timeline of developments since 2000. How important would it be to extend the narrative chapters by a chapter or two, covering recent years?

* The book originally was published at $12 a copy (with bulk discounts), which helped make publication feasible. Would you be willing to pay up to that amount for a revised edition?

* If you are a bulk purchaser, how many copies would you expect to buy in a year?

What readers say about The History of Public Broadcasting

* Recommended!
* With an "invaluable" web supplement.
* Brings staffers "into the discussion."
* "Concise, fact-filled."
* "Indispensable."

This is a publication worthy of the subject! Inexpensive, too, it suggests itself for course adoption, especially with its web-based supplementary materials. Recommended!
Christopher Sterling, Communications Booknotes Quarterly, Spring 2000

A well done short trip through a complicated story. It is factual and doesn’t really gloss over the murky parts. The references to web-based material, which my students used often, is also very useful ...The book reads well, doesn’t tell you more than you want to know and, thankfully, lacks the feel of an academic tome. Combined with Current, it allowed me to cover the past, present and future of public broadcasting.
Ralph Jennings, General Manager, WFUV, Fordham University

An excellent resource for public broadcasting professionals and fans who want to know the system’s roots.
Lisa A. Phillips, Reporter, Northeast Public Radio, Albany

An excellent book for a class (or a unit in a class) on public broadcasting. The tie-in with the Public Broadcasting PolicyBase [on the Web] is invaluable. Students can read primary documents in the history and workings of pubcasting, and use these in presentations and papers as context for more current issues. The students have loved it, both for its format and its conciseness. It’s a wonderful supplement for lectures.
Betsy Krueger, Associate Professor, Washington State University

The senior managers had a growing feeling that new hires just had no sense of the history of the industry and, as a result, were left out of "the discussion" many times. . . . We felt it imperative to try to fill the gap.... We believe a better informed staff will value their industry and the service they provide the community.... History is a wonderful way to create perspective, particularly for younger members of the staff.
Malcolm Wall, Executive Director, The Oklahoma Network

This concise, fact-filled history highlights the people and the politics that determined the evolution of public television and radio in America.... Together with its supplementary website, it provides an excellent introduction to public broadcasting for students and teachers of media policy and for fans of PBS programming.
Peggy Charren, Founder, Action for Children’s Television, Cambridge, Mass.

Clear and concise but also comprehensive. It’s indispensable for anyone interested in where public broadcasting has been and where it might be going.
Matthew Holzman, Development Director, KCRW, Santa Monica