Neither Public, nor Private: Inventing PBS Television, 1965-67
The Carnegie Commission on Educational Television published a 1967 report with recommendations that became the foundation for American Public Television policy. Commission researchers visited ninety-two existing educational television stations and seven systems of public television abroad to inform the document. The Commissioners attempted to create an entertaining and educational alternative to commercial broadcasting in the United States in a moment of legislative opportunity during President Johnson’s Great Society program. This essay explores the process of creating that system, simultaneously reliant on and distant from comparative media research. This tension may stem from a kind of American exceptionalism that has arguably haunted public television since its inception. Through textual analyses of archival material, as well as the Carnegie Commission report on educational television, the article traces lost lessons from public television systems abroad, as well as ambivalent rhetoric concerning diversity.
Reyes, C. (In press). Neither public, nor private: Inventing PBS television, 1965-67. Journalism History. doi: 10.1080/00947679.2020.1837594