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Public Television Day – April 7, 2023

Public Television Day is celebrated on April 7 because on that date in 1927, the company AT&T transmitted the first successful long-distance public broadcast of television. It was an image of Herbert Hoover, secretary of commerce, and was transmitted from Washington, D.C., to New York City. The most accepted model of public broadcasting incorporates universal geographical accessibility, universal appeal, attention to minorities, contributions to national identity and sense of community, distance from vested interests, direct funding and universality of payment, competition in good programming rather than numbers, and guidelines that liberate rather than restrict. For a long time, public broadcasting was the dominant or only form of broadcasting in many countries, because of this, we believe it is important to remember this date.

History of Public Television Day

While the first long-distance public broadcast of television was on April 7, 1927, it wasn’t until 1941 that the U.S. first public television station, K.U.H.T., was founded by Dr. John W. Meaney, and went on air for the first time on May 25, 1953, from the campus of the University of Houston. That year, the Federal Communications Commission reserved almost 250 broadcast frequencies for educational T.V. stations, though, by 1960, only 44 of them had begun operations.

The Educational Television and Radio Center was founded on November 21, 1952, to distribute educational programs, and began operations on May 16, 1954. In November 1963, it changed its name to National Education Television (NET), dropped its radio assets, and began airing controversial, hard-hitting documentaries about the social issues of that era. This resulted in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 on November 7, which established the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting (C.P.B.). It was decided that educational television would be transformed into “public television” and that the C.P.B. would facilitate programming diversity among public broadcasters and the development and expansion of non-commercial broadcasting; It would also provide funding to local stations to help them create programs.

The C.P.B. ended up shutting down NET for its refusal to stop airing these documentaries and replaced it with the Public Broadcasting Service on October 5, 1970, while NET merged with the station W.N.D.T. to form W.N.E.T., P.B.S.’s primary member television station. P.B.S. is now the country’s main public television provider and has over 350 member television stations, many owned by educational institutions. Since 2004, P.B.S. has consistently ranked as the most trusted institution by Americans in comparison to commercial broadcasts, cable television, newspapers, and streaming services.

Public Television Day timeline

April 7, 1927
The First Long-Distance Public Broadcast of Television

An image of Herbert Hoover, secretary of commerce, is transmitted from Washington, D.C., to New York City.

May 25, 1953
KUHT First Goes on Air

The first public television station, KUHT, in the U.S. is launched.

May 16, 1954
The E.T.R.C. Begins Operations

The Educational Television and Radio Center distributes educational programs on radio and television; later, it changes its name to National Education Television (N.E.T) and focus exclusively on television.

November 7, 1967
The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is created to control N.E.T. and public television in general.

October 5, 1970
NET Shuts Down, is Replaced With PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service (P.B.S.) assumes many of N.E.T.’s previous functions.

Public Television Day FAQs

What is the purpose of P.B.S. T.V.?

Its purpose is to serve the American public with programming and services of the highest quality, using media to educate, inspire, entertain and express a diversity of perspectives.

Who owns P.B.S.?

P.B.S. is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned by its member public television stations.

What is the difference between commercial and public service televisions?

Commercial broadcasting is primarily based on airing advertisements for profit, while public broadcasting receives government subsidies and usually does not have paid advertising interrupting the programs.

How to Observe Public Television Day

  1. Watch your local public television channel

    You can check their schedule on their website or social media pages. Find something that looks interesting to you!

  2. Share your thoughts on social media

    Talk about the programs you have seen recently, your childhood memories of P.B.S. shows, or even the importance of public television. Don’t forget to use the #PublicTelevisionDay hashtag!

  3. Check out what P.B.S. has for you on the internet

    No T.V.? No problem! There are a lot of videos you can watch for free on their YouTube channels, official websites, or their apps, including full episodes of some shows.

5 Surprising Facts About Public Broadcasting Service

  1. It has a massive viewership

    About 206 million people watch P.B.S. annually which is about 80% of all U.S. television households.

  2. The first T.V. program by kids

    “Zoom” was the first T.V. program made by kids, for kids and it first aired in 1972.

  3. Created one of the first reality shows

    “An American Family” showed the real struggles of a family from Santa Barbara, such as divorce, during a time when those topics were avoided in media.

  4. It helped student performance increase by 8%

    This was shown in studies after P.B.S. LearningMedia was integrated into the student's curriculum.

  5. P.B.S. invented closed captioning

    This was created in 1972 to help the deaf and hard of hearing.

Why Public Television Day is Important

  1. Public television is for everyone

    It doesn’t matter your sex, gender, sexuality, race, income, or whether you have disabilities. It provides free entertainment and a culture that encourages diversity.

  2. Public television has taught us many valuable lessons

    Public television moved and shocked people by showing societal issues such as poverty and racism. P.B.S. aired the first all-female moderated debate in the history of television and was the only station at the time to air the Senate Watergate hearings in full.

  3. It is a safe space for children

    While P.B.S. produces content for all ages, after September 11, 2001, they decided to switch exclusively to children’s programs. It explained that amid all the terror that took over media, it wanted to make sure at least one channel was safe for children.

Public Television Day dates

YearDateDay
2023April 7Friday
2024April 7Sunday
2025April 7Monday
2026April 7Tuesday
2027April 7Wednesday

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