Access goals hitch ride at light speed

Pubcasters joined more than 2,000 first-round applicants racing to pitch their broadband dreams for funding from the telecom piece of the government’s stimulus outlay.

They’re volunteering for the Obama administration’s push to extend broadband access to unserved and underserved communities. Among bids from pubcasters:

PBS seeks $8.7 million for a Broadband Communities initiative to expand its Digital Learning Library for schools, encourage public use of its video portal and establish broadband education outreach.

Florida Public Broadcasting requests $22.8 million for a statewide high-speed HELPS (Health, Education, Local, Public Safety) Network.

The National Black Programming Consortium put in for $11.5 million to build on the media skills training of its Public Media Corps.

PBS makes alliance with MCI to develop online service

PBS and MCI will develop a computer information service that supplements public TV programming while letting consumers place online orders for books, videocassettes and other program-related materials. The telecom company said March 23 [1995] that it would invest at least $15 million in the venture over the first five years. It was one of a series of MCI announcements publicizing its plans for expansion of Internet activities. Four days later, the company detailed its plans to offer Internet access services nationwide under the brand name “internetMCI,” and opened a shopping mall on the Internet called “marketplaceMCI.” And on March 29, the company said it hired cable programming veteran Scott Kurnit away from the Prodigy online service to oversee its information services unit, including the venture with PBS.