A History of Public Broadcasting
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to present >
March: Closed captioning, developed by PBS,
premieres on three networks, including PBS (Masterpiece Theatre).
March: NAEB launches trade
newspaper, Current [timeline].
May 3: Minnesota Public Radio begins national
feeds of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion.
June 20: NPR completes first national satellite network for radio.
August: WNET launches Dial program guide for major stations (it
loses millions, dies in May 1987). “Death of
a Princess” on WGBH’s World outrages Saudi royalty.
KCET offers Carl Sagan’s Cosmos.
February: Walter Annenberg pledges $150 million
over 15 years, launching Annenberg/CPB Project to make college-level video
courses; he breaks off funding in 1990 and begins new math/science project
to train grade-school teachers in 1991. March:
President Reagan seeks $88 million cut in CPB funding, achieves $35 million
cut in fiscal 1983. Oct. 2: FCC’s Temporary
Commission on Alternative Financing (TCAF) begins work.
Nov. 3: NAEB membership votes to dissolve bankrupt association.
Once MPR's morning
deejay, Keillor revived
the radio variety genre with A Prairie Home Companion.
June: Bruce Christensen succeeds David Carley
as president of NAPTS. Nov. 4: Station consortium
raises curtain on American Playhouse.
WNET lets Nature loose on PBS.
Feb. 23: Many public TV stations air live open-heart
surgery covered by KAET, Phoenix. April 8:
FCC allows public radio to use FM subcarriers for profit-making.
April 15: American Public Radio incorporates (it changes its name to Public
Radio International in 1994). April 19: NPR
President Frank Mankiewicz steps down from management role as financial
crisis becomes known [GAO
summary, 1984]; he resigns May 10.
Aug. 2: CPB joins stations in bailing out NPR.
Sept. 5: First hour-long nightly news program debuts: MacNeil /Lehrer
NewsHour. WGBH and consortium launch Frontline.
WGBH produces Vietnam: A Television History.
Oct. 27: NPR elects Douglas Bennet as president,
succeeding Mankiewicz. December: NBC News announces
hiring of PBS President Lawrence Grossman as its president.
March: FCC loosens rules, allowing “enhanced
underwriting.” April: Bruce Christensen of
APTS named PBS president. Peter Fannon succeeds him at APTS in January
1985. July 3: U.S. Supreme Court overturns
law prohibiting editorials by CPB-assisted stations, acting in case brought
by Pacifica and others [ruling
on FindLaw website]. Chicago’s WTTW
is first station to air TV stereo sound full-time.
Christian Science Monitor launches Monitor Radio (ceases June 1997).
Nov. 28-30: In meeting at Wingspread
conference center, stations develop statement of editorial integrity for
independence from state governments [document].
"Fires in the Mirror" on American Playhouse.
in House on NPR
May 22: Public radio stations approve NPR business
plan: they receive the funds that CPB previously sent directly to NPR.
June: CPB President Edward Pfister quits in
dispute over planned Moscow trip [article].
June 30: Public broadcasting revenues pass
$1 billion by end of fiscal year 1985. Nov.
2: NPR debuts Scott Simon’s Weekend Edition on Saturdays.
CPB begins aid to Public Television Outreach Alliance.
January: CPB hires Martin Rubenstein as president
(and fires him Nov. 13). CPB establishes Radio
Program Fund. September: Co-host Susan Stamberg
leaves All Things Considered after 14 years.
Sept. 30: NPR makes final payment on $7 million debt.
WGBH introduces Descriptive Video Service for vision-impaired viewers.
January: Bill Moyers, gone since 1981, announces
return to PBS. Jan. 21: Henry Hampton’s Eyes
on the Prize debuts. March: CPB drops proposal
for political content analysis of programs.
June 13: Garrison Keillor’s last Prairie Home Companion before
(temporary) departure from public radio (he returns in September 1989
with American Radio Company of the Air).
July: CPB promotes Donald Ledwig to president.
Dec. 7: NAPTS (later renamed APTS) names David Brugger president, succeeding
Peter Fannon. Dec. 10: Senate rejects Ernest
Hollings’ trust fund plan. NPR begins producing
Performance Today and Weekend Edition Sunday, and distributing
Fresh Air and Car Talk.
February: APR hires Stephen Salyer as president.
Oct. 11: WGBH launches The American Experience.
November: Congress directs CPB to create a
program service to aid independent producers (the resulting Independent
Television Service is established in September 1989 [document]
and begins operation in June 1991).
produced Eyes on the
Prize and other
January: KUSC and APR launch Marketplace.
March: Whittle Communications stirs controversy
by offering free satellite dishes and TV sets to schools that show daily
Channel One newscast with commercials. October:
PBS names Jennifer Lawson as its first chief programming executive [article].
CPB adds $23 million to her budget.
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Web page created January 2001
Compiled by Steve Behrens
Adapted from A History of Public Broadcasting
Current Publishing Committee, Takoma