PBS gets grant for public affairs channel

MUMBAI: America's public broadcaster PBS' president and CEO Pat Mitchell has announced that PBS has received a $200,000 planning grant from the John and James L Knight Foundation.

The funds will support the planning process for a new digital service focussed on public affairs programming.


The project, which has the working title PBS Public Square, will be shaped by an advisory panel of station representatives, producers and thought leaders from the public sector. They will work with PBS senior programming VP Jacoba Atlas. PBS hopes to get the service off the ground in early 2005.

Mitchell was quoted in a company release saying, "This planning grant from Knight Foundation will make it possible for PBS and member stations, with our unique national / local distribution to all Americans, to design an electronic public square. This will be a digital programming service devoted entirely to issues of local, national and global impact. The opportunity to use digital technology to create new ways to inform and engage the public responds directly to our mission and to our commitment as public service media to strengthen and sustain the values of our democracy."

During the planning phase, PBS will work with a project manager and an advisory panel, which will shortly be announced. Their mandate will be to develop a case study on the need this service will fill and identify the potential audiences that will be served. They will create a programme model for the service as well as a financial model for the service that would include possible revenue sources.

Atlas added, "We envision this service as a way to further enhance the value of award-winning public affairs programming currently on PBS. These include The Newshour With Jim Lehrer, Washington Week, Frontline. This service will also include new programmes and formats designed to deliver timely and compelling television and online content that will engage citizens around the issues of our time."

PBS already operates two offshoots seen on satellite systems or digital cable. PBS Kids offers children's programming. PBS You provides adult education programmes.

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