Why public television?: Public TV’s mission statement, 2004

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Public TV stations adopted this statement of mission at the PBS Members Meeting, Feb. 23, 2004. For more information. See also Current‘s coverage, published March 8, 2004.

Public television is the only universally accessible national resource that uses the power and accessibility of television to educate, enlighten, engage and inform. Because of its public service mission, public television is more essential than ever in the cluttered media landscape.

In a world of commercial media conglomerates, public television is the only locally owned television provider in most communities. Its array of education and outreach services, combined with local ownership, means that public television stations are actively engaged in their communities, creating content and providing services that respond to local needs.

Because the goal of commercial television is to maximize profits by attracting as many viewers as possible to expose them to advertising, its programming philosophy is driven by ratings as a key measure of its success. Public television, on the other hand, strives for impact and measures its success by the extent of its ability to educate and inform, to enlighten and entertain. In short, public television strives to:

• Challenge the American mind.
• Inspire the American spirit.
• Preserve the American memory.
• Enhance the American dialogue.
• Promote global understanding.

Mission Statement for Digital PTV

Digital technology offers new opportunities to support a public service mission that serves the American people. Public television will use digital technology over multiple platforms to:

• Extend its traditional mission of public service and noncommercial, educational broadcasting for all Americans.
• Combine public service national programming with universal service to make a positive difference in the lives of all Americans.
• Partner with community institutions to enrich and expand learning and involvement in public affairs, science, arts and culture.
• Ensure that diverse local voices have access to the media.


Public television, through its community-based programming and services, will be a unifying force in American culture, a lens through which we can understand our diverse nation and the world.

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