Key documents about the history, purpose, policy and structure of public broadcasting in the United States

Subject areas

See Underwriting and advertising

Affinity Group Coalition
Amended charter (PDF) as of August 2008, for coordinating body for specialized groups within public TV, recognized by CPB and other national groups for purposes of consultation. Earlier versions: September 2006, August 2005.

Association of America's Public Television Stations
Bylaws, June 1998

Carnegie I
Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, Public Television: A Program for Action, 1967
Summary of recommendations
Membership, Preface and Introductory Note
Letter from E.B. White to Carnegie I

Carnegie II
A Public Trust: The Report of the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting, 1978
Summary of Findings and Recommendations
Preface and Membership

CPB: Corporation for Public Broadcasting
APTS recommendations on CPB Board reform (PDF), October 2005
Curve of CPB appropriations, 1969-2001
CPB budget allocation formula — chart with legislative language
CPB budget, fiscal year 2004 (PDF)
Funding authorized and appropriated for CPB, 1969-2001
Goals and objectives, 2002
Grant rules on mailing lists and partisan political activities, 1999
University of North Carolina Television Q&A on equity in CPB and PBS formulas, 2001
See also Public Broadcasting Act, Nixon Administration papers

Channel reservation
FM channel allocations, 1945, including reservation of channels for noncommercial use, very slow
Comparative standards for selection among noncommercial channel applicants, rulemaking proposal in 1998, order in 2000
U.S. Court of Appeals decision on noncommercial licensing in American Family Association v. FCC, May 2004 (PDF file)
Bills to protect religious broadcasting on reserved noncommercial educational channels, 2000.
FCC documents on interference between TV Channel 6 and noncommercial FM stations, on FCC site
Low-power FM Radio Service (noncommercial) documents, on FCC site

Communications law
Communications law reference links on the Georgetown University Law Center site
Media law reference links on the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute site
Communications industry reference links on Cornell's LII site
See Public Broadcasting Act

Digital Promise Project,
Digital Opportunity Investment Trust

A Digital Gift to the Nation, April 2001 report by Lawrence Grossman and Newton Minow, on website of Century Foundation's Digital Promise Project
Rep. Markey's Wireless Technology Investment and Digital Dividends Act, May 2002
Sens. Dodd and Jeffords' Digital Opportunity Investment Trust Act, June 2002

Digital television
Advanced Television Systems Committee standards on ATSC site
Development of the ATSC Digital Standard on ATSC site
FCC digital TV documents, on FCC site

Fourth Report and Order, DTV transmission standard, Dec. 27, 1996
Fifth Report and Order, DTV rules, April 22, 1997

Direct broadcast satellite (DBS)
Noncommercial DBS set-aside provision upheld in Time Warner v. FCC, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1996
FCC Notice on DBS Public Interest Obligations, Nov. 25, 1998
Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act — FCC's page about

Editorializing prohibited by Public Broadcasting Act, 1967
FCC v. League of Women Voters of California, U.S. Supreme Court, 1984, in FindLaw web database

Educational Television Facilities Act

Ethics in Journalism — resources on website of Society of Professional Journalists, including SPJ Code
Statement of Principles on Editorial Integrity in the Program Process for State Licensees of Public Broadcasting

Federal funding
See CPB, PTFP, Gore Commission, Land Grant College Acts, Nixon Administration papers, Twentieth Century Fund Task Force, Digital Promise Project

First Amendment rights of public broadcasters
See Independence of public broadcasting

Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation spending on educational broadcasting, 1951-76

Friends/fundraising groups
Jefferson Public Radio dispute; memo from Oregon University System Internal Audit Division, Sept. 22, 2011, and Southern Oregon University president's statement to JPR Board, March 2012.

Gore Commission
Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, final report 1998, meeting summaries and transcripts (on Benton Foundation site)

Timeline adapted from A History of Public Broadcasting, and other resources
Timeline related to holdings of National Public Broadcasting Archives (on NPBA site)
Tuning Out Education: The Cooperation Doctrine, 1922-38, by Eugene Leach

See Independence of public broadcasting (below)

Independence of public broadcasting
Action for Children's Television v. FCC, two Court of Appeals rulings on broadcasts of indecent material: in June 1995 voiding a provision that favored public over commercial broadcasters, and in July 1995, upholding the indecency rule
Forbes v. Arkansas Educational Television , U.S. Court of Appeals, 1996; overturned in Arkansas Educational Television v. Forbes, Supreme Court, 1998
Klan v. KWMU, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2000 — Acrobat PDF file on site of Washington University Law School, St. Louis
The "Seven Filthy Words" Case, FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, Supreme Court, 1978 (on ACLU website)(in FindLaw web database)
Wingspread Statement of Principles on Editorial Integrity in the Program Process for State Licensees of Public Broadcasting Stations, 1984
WFDD-FM conflict between station and university, faculty senate report, 2000
FCC Enforcement of Prohibition Against Obscene and Indecent Broadcasts on FCC website
See also Editorializing, Objectivity and balance, Nixon Administration

Independent producers
Independent Television Service (ITVS) Articles of Incorporation, Sept. 22, 1989
ITVS Bylaws, as amended through Dec. 8, 1990
Code of Fair Practices for Working with Freelance Radio Producers, AIR/PAG, 1999

Journalistic ethics
Code of Ethics, Public Radio News Directors Inc., 2003
See also links on Ethics in Public Broadcasting

Land grant college legislation
Included here because of parallels with funding of public broadcasting
Justin Smith Morrill and the Politics and Legacy of the Land-Grant College Acts by Craig L. LaMay, 2001, on the website of the Digital Opportunity Project
The Land Grant Tradition, with texts of the Morrill Acts, on the website of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges
Educational Telecommunications: An Electronic Land Grant for the Twenty-first Century, a paper prepared for APTS by the Hartford Gunn Institute, October 1995
Rep. Markey's Wireless Technology Investment and Digital Dividends Act, 2002

Low-power FM
Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act of 2000 restricts the number of LPFM stations

Magnuson, Sen. Warren G.
Educational Television Progress Report, October 1965

National Educational Telecommunications Association
Bylaws, as amended July 2004

National Endowment for Children's Educational
Legislation creating little-used endowment, Section 394 of Communications Act, on Cornell Law School LII site

National Forum of Public Television Executives
Charter and organizational papers from the CEO Forum's original site, 1997

Nixon Administration
The Nixon Administration Public Broadcasting Papers: A Summary, 1969-74, released in 1979 in response to Freedom of Information Act request by Carnegie II staff

See Underwriting and advertising

NPR: National Public Radio
National Public Radio Purposes, memo by William H. Siemering, 1970
Articles of Incorporation, 1970
Initial bylaws, 1970
Recent bylaws, 1999
General Accounting, Feb. 10, 1984
Revenues and expenses: fiscal 1999 amounts and categories, on NPR's site
Blueprint for Growth (PDF), July 2006

Objectivity and balance
Objectivity and balance amendment in Public Telecommunications Act of 1992

On-demand programming
Public Service Publisher proposal, 2005, PowerPoint file

Organization of State Broadcasting Executives (OSBE)
Statement of Mission and Purpose, 2005

Pacifica Foundation
Bylaws, as amended Oct. 31, 1955
Bylaws, as amended through February 1999
Bylaws, as amended in 2003
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation, Supreme Court, 1978, on ACLU site

Public Broadcasting Management Association
Bylaws (PDF), February 2004

PBS: Public Broadcasting Service
Annual Reports, 1998, 1999 and 2000 at PBS Online
Declaration of Interdependence, 2001
CPB-PBS Partnership Agreement, 1973
Initial by-laws, Nov. 11, 1969
Present by-laws as amended through Feb. 6, 2000
Articles of Incorporation, Nov. 3, 1969
Proposal on the Formation of the Public Television Network, 1968, by Ward Chamberlin and Robert Carlisle
University of North Carolina Television Q&A on equity in CPB and PBS formulas, 2001
Editorial Standards and Policies, 2005
See also Underwriting, Station Program Cooperative, Public television

Political activities
CPB grant rules on mailing lists and partisan politican activities, 1999

Public Service Publisher
See On-demand

Public television
Why public television? Mission statement adopted by stations, February 2004 (and article about the statement)

Public Television Affinity Group Coalition
See Affinity Group Coalition

PTFP: Public Telecommunications Facilities Program
Educational Television Facilities Act, 1962 — original authorizing law
Public Telecommunications Financing Act of 1978
Facilities portion of Communications Act today

PTV Weekend
Lawrence Grossman's proposal for a commercially supported network for public TV stations, 1997, with related commentaries

Public Broadcasting Act
Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, as of April 1968
Corresponding parts of Communications Act today, as amended through Aug. 1, 2003.
President Johnson's message to Congress, endorsing federal aid to public TV, 1967
President Johnson's remarks on signing the law, November 1967
Text of act analyzed: is CPB Future Fund legal?
FCC noncommercial station licensing rules based on the law, Sec. 73.621
Pressler bill, Public Broadcasting Financial Resources Enhancement Act, 1996
Fields bill, Public Broadcasting Self-Sufficiency Act, 1996
Tauzin/Markey bill, Public Broadcasting Reform Act, 1998

Public radio
The Hidden Medium, Overview and Summary, by Herman W. Land Associates, 1967
The Public Radio Study, recommendations, by Samuel C.O. Holt, 1969
See also NPR, Pacifica

Purposes of public broadcasting
Why Public Broadcasting? Speeches and commentaries on matters of purpose that appeared in Current since 1995
National Public Radio Purposes, memo by Bill Siemering

Revenues of system
System revenues, fiscal years 2005 (most recent available), 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000 and 1999 (CPB compilations in PDF files)
System revenues, 1982-2003

Fundraising: CPB grant rules on mailing lists and partisan politican activities, 1999
See CPB, Ford Foundation, Underwriting

See Channel reservations

Numbers of stations and licensees

Station Program Cooperative
SPC proposed in article by Hartford Gunn, 1972

Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing, Executive Summary, 1983

See History

Twentieth Century Fund
Task Force on Public Broadcasting, Summary of Recommendations, 1993

Underwriting and advertising
FCC noncommercial station licensing rules, Sec. 73.621
FCC sponsorship identification rules, Sec. 73.1212
FCC Public Notice: Noncommercial Nature of Educational Broadcasting, April 11, 1986, including links to FCC notices
FCC notice to WTTW regarding underwriting credits, Dec. 2, 1997, and reduction of fine, March 6, 2000
NPR's Underwriting Guidelines, 1999
PBS underwriting guidelines: National Program Funding Standards & Practices
PBS program-related merchandise guidelines, at PBS Online
Temporary Commission on Alternative Financing, Executive Summary, 1983
FCC fines KMTP in San Francisco for airing ads, 2002. Suit by the station knocks down part of noncommercial law in Ninth Circuit Court, 2012.
See also PTV Weekend

University Licensee Association
Charter, as amended May 2005

Voters' Channel
Recommendations for creation of a Voters' Channel, by Alvin Perlmutter

This page updated Aug. 20, 2008

Do you know of or have copies of recent or historical documents that belong in this collection? If so, please send a note to Current at or by fax, 301-270-7241.

Public Broadcasting PolicyBase
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and the National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland, College Park

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PBPB is a supplement to A History of Public Broadcasting, published by Current.


Current and NPBA both maintain timelines of public broadcasting history. Current's is linked to articles from the newspaper and PBPB documents, and NPBA's is linked to an online list of its collection.


National Public Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland, College Park, has historical papers of PBS, CPB, NPR, CTW, JCET, AECT and other organizations.

NPBA also offers an online index of other collections of public broadcasting materials and other repositories where they're located.

Among them are the Mass Communications History Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, which has the papers of NAEB, NET, the Carnegie Commissions and Newton Minow, among others.


The biweekly newspaper is available by mail and selections are published online.

Microfilms of Current's back issues, 1980-95, are available from NPBA.

Public Broadcasting PolicyBase