Knight Foundation to Announce $3m Grant for New PBS 'Citizen's Channel'PUBLIC SQUARE

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Announcement of Funding from the Knight Foundation for New Digital Service to Be Made at National Summit on the Future of Public Broadcasting Tomorrow in Washington, DC


ALEXANDRIA, VA -- December 14, 2005 - The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will announce a new 3 year, $2.5 million challenge grant to support PBS's on-air, online 24/7 digital service dedicated to non-fiction programming and the promotion of public engagement. In addition to the grant, Alberto Ibarguen, president and CEO of the Knight Foundation, will announce that the Knight Foundation has also provided PBS with $500,000 to fund a pilot for the series GLOBAL WATCH, which will air as part of a programming block called Public Square. The 24/7 service, is scheduled to debut in Fall 2006 as part of the multicast options from PBS stations broadcasting in DTV. The announcement will be made at tomorrow's Digital Future Initiative Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Summit, an invitation-only event funded by the Ford Foundation, brings together business, philanthropic, education and public broadcasting leaders from across the country to learn about the Digital Future Initiative (DFI) and explore the future of public service media.

Co-chaired by James Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape, and Reed Hundt, former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the DFI panel is a distinguished group of experts who were convened in December 2004 with a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to consider the role of public broadcasting in the digital future. In its final report, to be formally released at tomorrow's summit, the panel argues that America's public broadcasting system is uniquely qualified to address critical national needs in education, community engagement and emergency preparedness.

"We are extremely pleased to help PBS take the next step into the digital future and launch this exciting 'citizen's channel,'" said Ibarguen. "Communities need information from trusted sources in order to thrive. And an essential facet of news in the future is interactivity. Public Square will be both interactive and from the most trusted source of news and public affairs programming: PBS. We are proud to partner with them."

"We are very grateful for the Knight Foundation's support," said Pat Mitchell, PBS's president and chief executive officer. "Public Square will deliver on public television's mission to strengthen civic participation in communities and provide a trusted source of news, information and varied perspectives in order to better inform and engage citizens."

The new channel addresses in part the need, outlined in the DFI report, to strengthen civic engagement. This resource-rich multicast option will offer news, thought-provoking stories, thorough investigations and the trusted voices Americans have come to associate with PBS on television and on the Internet, connecting people to what's happening in their own backyards, across the country and around the globe. The 24/7 service will also offer live coverage of Congressional hearings, major press conferences and other important events.

Created in partnership with PBS member stations KCET Hollywood and KQED San Francisco, the Public Square (wt) content opens up opportunities for collaboration with local stations, producers and citizens across the country. Public Square (wt) brings together the best of local, regional, national and international non-fiction in one interactive Web site and television program package. The exclusive programming block of Public Square will begin with GLOBAL WATCH (wt), a fresh and immediate look at the day's events on our planet, produced by KCET and KQED. The 60-minute program is a nightly anchored broadcast, culling major news stories from around the world, supplemented by expansive Internet content.

Following GLOBAL WATCH, Public Square continues with a new independent film series, ITVS PRESENTS. The series features an hour-long local, national and international films high quality, content-rich documentaries created by a diverse body of independent producers conveying contemporary stories. ITVS PRESENTS films take creative risks, explore complex issues and express points of view seldom seen on commercial television.

A distinctive feature of Public Square will be its interactive elements. Interstitials will include "My Life," a series of video blogs from twenty-somethings, and "60 People in 60 Seconds," in which viewers of all ages and from all continents tell the world what's on their minds in one-minute segments. The service's Web component will be refreshed continually with reports and analyses from around the world. Viewers and online visitors will find stories of scientific advances, natural wonders, revelations of history and lives of the great and the unsung. In addition, daily and weekly news and public affairs programs provide insight and fresh perspectives on the day's and week's events.

Localism is a vital characteristic of all PBS member stations and, as such, it is fundamental to Public Square. Stations will have the opportunity to include local/regional programs as a part of the 24/7 broadcast service, and visitors to the Public Square Web site on pbs.org will have the option of "localizing" the Internet experience.

Renowned PBS series that will find a new and expanded home alongside Public Square include NOVA, NATURE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, AMERICAN MASTERS, THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, FRONTLINE, CHARLIE ROSE, INDEPENDENT LENS and P.O.V. Also included are non-fiction specials and limited series from the PBS national schedule and library, plus original productions, including seminars and panel presentations from "think tanks" such as The Aspen Institute.

PBS is a private, nonprofit media enterprise that serves the nation's 348 public noncommercial television stations, reaching nearly 90 million people each week through on-air and online content. Bringing diverse viewpoints to television and the Internet, PBS provides high-quality documentary and dramatic entertainment, and consistently dominates the most prestigious award competitions. PBS is the leading provider of educational materials for K-12 teachers, and offers a broad array of educational services for adult learners. PBS' premier kids' TV programming and Web site, PBS KIDS Online (pbskids.org), continue to be parents' and teachers' most trusted learning environments for children. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet, averaging more than 30 million unique visits and 380 million page views per month in 2004. PBS is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has been a resource for innovative people and institutions worldwide, guided by its goals of strengthening democratic values, reducing poverty and injustice, promoting international cooperation and advancing human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, and Russia.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grant-making institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. With assets, as of January 1, 2005, of approximately $4.8 billion, the Foundation makes grants of approximately $200 million each year.


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Lea Sloan, 703-739-5021, lsloan@pbs.org

Jan McNamara, 703/739-5028; jmcnamara@pbs.org