PBS loses biggest underwriter as it considers 30-second credits

ExxonMobil will stop underwriting Masterpiece Theatre after spring
2004, the oil company announced Dec. 13. It has spent more than
$250 million on MT and other PBS programs over 32 years. In recent
years, the company has spent about $10 million a year, providing full
funding for the drama series, says Jeanne Hopkins, v.p. of communications
at WGBH, which packages the series. For years before merging with Exxon, Mobil had also supported another series
of largely British dramas, Mystery!, but Mobil had dropped funding
of the sister series Mystery!

Pubcasting on the Web, three years later

PBS Online is celebrating its third anniversary this week with a doubled
staff, an expanded mission, an upgraded teachers’ service that opens next
month, and a much faster connection with the Internet, to be turned on this
month. In the three years since PBS launched its site, the Web has grown to 39
million users a week in this country, with online ad sales approaching $1
billion. During the same period, public broadcasting’s largest web site,
PBS’s, has built an audience of more than 2 million unique visitors a month,
who choose among some 50,000 pages. Things have moved so fast, says PBS Online
chief Cindy Johanson, “it seems like it was 10 years ago, not three.” PBS expanded its Internet connection by one-third last February, and demand
soon had it hitting the ceiling again.

Gingrich wants to ‘zero-out’ federal funding to CPB

House Speaker-designate Newt Gingrich said on his weekly cable TV show last week that he wants to “zero-out” CPB funding this year. Remarks by Gingrich (R-Ga.) and new Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Larry Pressler (R-S.D.) fit perfectly into a dire scenario described in newspaper columns by commentators from Linda Ellerbee on the left to New York Post critic John Podhoretz on the right. Anticipating a coming legislative struggle, presidents of the public broadcasting’s national organizations have joined a task force convened by CPB President Richard Carlson. The leaders aim to “generate a full positive and informative picture of … what public broadcasting does and what it is that CPB funding buys,” said CPB spokesman Michael Schoenfeld.

Educational Television Progress Report, Sen. Warren Magnuson, 1965

Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (D-Wash.), then chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, laid out the case for federal aid to public broadcasting in this report published a month before the creation of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. The senator entered the report in the Congressional Record as an “extension of remarks” for Oct. 22, 1965. Little more than two years later, President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act.  

Mr. President, in 1962 the Congress enacted the Educational Television Facilities Act which made it possible for direct Federal support for educational television stations.