PBS in 2003
ALEXANDRIA, Va., December 17, 2003 -- As 2003 draws to a close, PBS looks back on a banner year with an unprecedented number of honors and awards for programming excellence -- including 25 Emmys, surpassing every other network. The world's most popular dot-org site -- pbs.org -- broke all-time records in 2003, increasing site traffic by more than 55 percent. PBS also received significant new underwriting commitments from partners who want to support the best programming in the business, including such marquee companies as The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric Company, General Motors Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, New York Life and Volkswagen, to name a few. Finally, in a world of diminishing or fragmented viewing, PBS has continued to maintain its loyal audience base while commercial broadcasters and pay cable lose viewership.*
"This year demonstrates how highly Americans value PBS," said PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell. "From loyal viewers who not only continue to tune in but also renew their memberships, to huge gains in our online traffic and a record number of awards for excellence, 2003 has been a testament to the fact that public service media is more vibrant than ever, and more appreciated than ever."
2003 showcased some of the best talent on screen and behind the scenes -- from Martin Scorsese's THE BLUES, which featured films from Clint Eastwood, Wim Wenders and Charles Burnett, to Robert Redford's COYOTE WAITS, Ken Burns' latest documentary HORATIO'S DRIVE: AMERICA'S FIRST ROADTRIP and Hugh Jackman's star turn in GREAT PERFORMANCES "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!" PBS also expanded its offerings of independent film, continued to be the premier place for music and performance programming, and created a new forum for national dialogue with the debut of FLASHPOINTS U.S.A. WITH BRYANT GUMBEL AND GWEN IFILL.
New episodes from PBS' icon programs, such as AMERICAN EXPERIENCE's Oscar-nominated "Daughter from Danang," FRONTLINE's "Truth, War and Consequences," NOVA's "The Elegant Universe" and many others, rounded out a year filled with exceptional quality and diversity, acknowledged by the industry's most prestigious awards.
PBS Primetime went beyond the screen to advance discussion and learning opportunities, including the launch of PBS Program Club community events that offer screenings and lively discussions about PBS programs.
PBS Program Club's reach is enhanced through national partnerships with the Association for College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I), which serves on-campus residents at colleges and universities, and SeniorNet, a membership organization that engages and connects senior citizens on the Internet and in their own communities.
Many series, such as AVOIDING ARMAGEDDON, BECOMING AMERICAN: THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE and MATTERS OF RACE, featured local outreach initiatives that provided information on a number of issues, as well as the tools for getting more involved. In early 2004, PBS presents THE FORGETTING: A PORTRAIT OF ALZHEIMER'S, hosted by David Hyde Pierce, offering an extensive community outreach program to help families and caregivers deal with the many issues that surround this disease.
This year, PBS announced plans to add three new news and information programs to the schedule -- Tucker Carlson (premiering June 2004), Tavis Smiley (January 2004) and PBS/NPR Newsbriefs (January 2004).
Parents and kids continued to trust and choose PBS KIDS programming over any other children's series. In August 2003 (the most recent figures available), PBS KIDS had five of the top 10 programs among kids two to five, three of the top 10 among all kids two to 11, and six of the top 10 among mothers of young children.** ARTHUR, BARNEY & FRIENDS, CAILLOU, CLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG, DRAGON TALES and SESAME STREET are consistently among these favorites. Next year will also mark additions to the PBS KIDS line-up with BOOHBAH (January 2004), POSTCARDS FROM BUSTER (fall 2004) and THE MISADVENTURES OF MAYA AND MIGUEL (fall 2004).
PBS KIDS Share a Story literacy initiative reached more than 40 million people this year. The on-air, online and community campaign helps improve children's language and literacy skills by encouraging adults to share stories daily with children through singing, rhyming, conversing, reading aloud, performing, drawing and writing. Laura Bush serves as Honorary National Chair of the campaign, and READING RAINBOW's LeVar Burton is National Chair.
In fall 2003, PBS launched PBS KIDS on Demand, bringing select titles from PBS KIDS' award-winning programming to a new cable television platform, on-demand and around the clock.
In November 2003, PBS KIDS partnered with the Mills Corporation to open the first-ever PBS KIDS Backyard, a learn-and-play destination inspired by the rich content of PBS KIDS award-winning series. The PBS KIDS Backyard is not a store, but an educational environment that provides a place for families to play, learn and explore together. Grand opening weekend in St. Louis experienced foot traffic in excess of 200,000 people.
In 2003, pbs.org -- already the most popular dot-org site on the Internet -- shattered usage records. From January through October of 2003, pbs.org recorded more than 3 billion pageviews, compared to 1.94 billion pageviews during the same period in 2002 -- a 55 percent increase.*** Among the biggest draws to pbs.org this year were sites that went beyond the impact of on-air broadcast, including comprehensive interactive coverage of the war with Iraq, PBS KIDS content, as well as classroom materials for educators. In addition, users of pbs.org who "localized" the site by designating their local PBS station could sample a potpourri of local online content.
PBS and its member stations form the country's largest educational institution. One major initiative is PBS Ready To Learn, a program created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, that combines PBS KIDS on-air programming with local workshops that help parents and early childhood educators prepare children for success in school. From January 1 to August 31, 2003, Ready To Learn stations reached nearly 668,000 children by conducting more than 6,700 workshops that were attended by more than 100,000 participants.
PBS programming was ranked #1 by educators. Research commissioned by PBS showed that six of the top 10 most popular programs for educators are PBS programs: READING RAINBOW, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIALS, ARTHUR, SESAME STREET, NOVA and BETWEEN THE LIONS. Included as part of PBS' "Digital Classroom" initiative, the national survey was conducted by Grunwald Associates of San Mateo, California. Additionally in 2003, PBS TeacherSource (www.pbs.org/teachersource), the popular online resource for America's K-12 teachers, boosted its library of free lesson plans and classroom activities, aggregated by grade level and national standards, to 4,500.
In May, PBS launched its "PBS Campus" (www.pbs.org/campus), a free Web site that allows users to search for a wealth of college courses offered via distance learning, identify and contact colleges where they can enroll in those courses, and learn about other options to help them pursue their education. PBS Campus is a joint effort of PBS, local public television stations and colleges nationwide.
Awards and Honors
Major honors for the 2003 award year include: four Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Awards, the most for any network; eight George Foster Peabody Awards, more than twice of any other network; 10 Daytime Emmys, putting PBS atop all broadcast and cable networks for children's programming for the sixth consecutive year; seven News and Documentary Emmys, topping all broadcast and cable networks with the most wins for the third time in three years; eight Primetime Emmys, including "Outstanding Commercial" for the new Be More campaign spot BE MORE EMPOWERED ("Fish"). A total of 10 Parents' Choice Awards went to 10 different PBS KIDS series and four of the top eight awards at the 19th Annual IDA Distinguished Documentary Achievement Awards went to PBS programs. In November 2003, AUSTIN CITY LIMITS was presented the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence -- the National Medal of Arts. AUSTIN CITY LIMITS is the first television series or program to receive this honor since the medal's creation in 1984.
More than a dozen organizations made new commitments to PBS programming of $1 million or more, including Andersen Windows, Inc., Century 21, The Coca-Cola Company, General Electric Company, General Motors Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Legacy Foundation, Microsoft Corporation, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, SBC Communications, Inc. and Volkswagen.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. Serving nearly 90 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media. More information about PBS is available at pbs.org, the leading dot-org Web site on the Internet.
* NTI Galaxy Explorer, 9/30/02-12/1/02 vs. 9/29/03-11/30/03. Average primetime household ratings among broadcast networks, basic cable networks and pay cable networks as groups.
** For PBS, NTI Pocketpiece for August 2003. For broadcast, cable and syndication, Nielsen Galaxy Explorer, August 1-31, 2003.
*** Statistics for the PBS "supersites" - PBS KIDS (www.pbskids.org), PBS TeacherSource (www.pbs.org/teachersource), PBS Parents (www.pbs.org/parents) and PBS Campus (www.pbs.org/campus) are included as part of the overall pbs.org traffic figure. All figures are based on internal server statistics.
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