The Declaration of Interdependence, 2001

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Facing the first major station struggle of her 16 months as PBS president — over the perennial public TV issue of common carriage — Pat Mitchell introduced a “Declaration of Interdependence” at the network’s annual meeting June 14, 2001. The document summarizes major public TV objectives, gives a deep bow to stations’ local role and refers to a recent refinement: the aim to build “social capital” in American communities. See also Current coverage of the 2001 meeting.

There comes a time in the history of public television, when the people we serve demand of us something more;

Because, they hold these truths to be self-evident:

Americans are first and foremost citizens, not consumers. Americans have an unalienable right to free access to content that challenges their minds, lifts their spirits, and stirs their souls. Public television can and should offer a unique experience — one that builds trust, creates connections and encourages citizens to take action, become involved, and build the social capital that characterizes healthy communities.

Today, the members of this grand public service enterprise — the 347 stations and their membership organization, PBS — declare with absolute conviction that we will not succumb to commercialization, nor will we settle for anything less than relevance and distinctive value.

We will be ESSENTIAL.

We resolve we are in this together, and that the success of any one of us depends on the success of us all. We resolve to take the best of what is local and the best of what is national, to serve all the American people in surprising and significant ways. We resolve to capitalize on our great past, not solely lean upon it.

In the years to come, in every single action we take, we resolve not to settle for the lowest common denominator, but aim for the highest common purpose.

We openly declare:


Article I

We shall fully capitalize on our ultimate strength — our local stations in every community.

Article II

We shall unite all our efforts — on Capitol Hill, with individuals, foundations, corporations, and partnerships — to maximize financial support and valuable resources.

Article III

We shall leave nothing sub-optimized. Operational excellence is mandatory.

Article IV

We shall brand the public television experience so it gets the full credit it deserves [and the membership and support that comes with that].

Social capital

Article V

The brand shall represent the worthy cause we are. [Our focused and consistent articulation of our worth will capture hearts, minds, and support.]

Article VI

We shall foster social capital with our programs and every service we undertake.

Article VII

We shall mobilize our core supporters — Americans involved in their communities — and we shall recruit new supporters to join the cause.

Article VIII

We shall work passionately with a diverse set of partners to build the reserve of social capital in our communities.

Universal access

Article IX

We shall not allow “digital” to be The Great Divider, but instead the Great Unifier — and shall be a respected leader and the lasting expert.

Article X

We shall not fear the changes of the times — new innovations of distribution, new technologies, new gatekeepers. We shall make each expand the reach of our mission.

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