PBS To Provide Digital Public TV Stations With Inauguration Coverage In High-Definition Television

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ALEXANDRIA, VA, January 12, 2001 - The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), WETA/Washington, DC, KCTS/Seattle and NHK of Japan will provide the 26 digital PBS stations nationwide with live, high-definition (HDTV) coverage of the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect George W. Bush and Vice President-elect Richard Cheney on Saturday, January 20. This event marks the first time the inauguration of an American president and vice president will be presented in the new digital television format that combines crystal-clear widescreen pictures with CD-quality sound.

"PBS and its member stations are committed to being at the forefront of DTV development and to using this technology for public benefit," commented Edward P. Caleca, PBS senior vice president, technology and operations. "We believe that providing a live, high-definition broadcast of this historic event to stations across the country affirms our leadership position as well as our public service mission."

Local PBS stations planning to offer the HDTV broadcasts include KCET/Hollywood, CA; KQED/San Francisco, CA; KRMA/Denver, CO; WETA/Washington, DC; WKPC/Louisville, KY; WLPB/Baton Rouge, LA; WGBY/Springfield, MA; WMPT/Annapolis/Crownsville, MD; WCBB/Lewiston, ME; WTVS/Detroit, MI; KTCA/St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN; KCPT/Kansas City, MO; WMPN/Jackson, MS; WENH/Durham, NH; WNJT/Trenton, NJ; KNPB/Reno, NV; KOAC/Corvallis/Eugene, OR; KOPB/Portland, OR; WLVT /Allentown, PA; WITF/Harrisburg, PA; WHYY/Philadelphia, PA; WVIA/Pittston/Scranton, PA; WRLK/Columbia, SC; KBYU/Salt Lake City, UT; KCTS/Seattle, WA; WMVT/WMVS/Milwaukee, WI. In order to view the HDTV coverage offered by the 26 digital PBS stations, viewers must have DTV receivers.

WETA will provide commentary, packaging and technical coordination for the on-site coverage supplied by the Washington, DC news bureau of NHK of Japan.

The HDTV broadcast of the inauguration will begin on Saturday, January 20 at 11:30 a.m. ET. PBS will also offer a NEWSHOUR SPECIAL REPORT presenting live standard definition coverage and analysis of inaugural activities beginning at 11 a.m. ET. That coverage is expected to conclude at approximately 1:00 p.m. and will be anchored by Jim Lehrer.

Last summer, PBS, KCTS/Seattle and NHK provided 17 digital PBS stations with live HDTV coverage of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, marking the first time these major public events were broadcast in high definition.

In a world of hundreds of digital channels, only public broadcasters are committed to ensuring all Americans have access to high-quality, noncommercial, educational programming and services.

Seven pioneering local stations and PBS were among the first in the nation to launch digital service in the fall of 1998. Since then, PBS has premiered two digital services that are available to stations and on DBS (PBS KIDS® Channel, a 24-hour digital broadcast service, and PBS YOU, the nation's only 24-hour educational channel leading to a college degree), participated in groundbreaking enhanced TV projects and presented at least one HDTV program a month. Public television stations are required to make the federally mandated transition to digital by 2003.

KCTS/Seattle has established an international reputation as a leader in high-definition television production. The station completed the first international satellite transmission of a high-definition signal in October 1987, and, in 1994, became the first public television station in North America to own high-definition production equipment. In the past 10 years, KCTS created the largest archive of original high-definition television footage in the United States, having been involved in the production of more than 30 HDTV projects. Among the station's HDTV credits are the aerial specials, Over America, Over Ireland and Over Canada: An Aerial Adventure; the documentary, Chihuly Over Venice, whose November 1998 PBS premiere marked the first national broadcast in the United States of a television program that was both produced and aired in high-definition; the concert special, Seattle Symphony: Home at Last; and the documentary Rainier: The Mountain, which premiered on PBS in May 2000.

KCTS and WETA worked closely with NHK in planning the HDTV inauguration coverage and in coordinating with PBS technical personnel to ensure that the coverage is available to all U.S. public television stations that are able to transmit digital television signals.

WETA was the first full-power public DTV station on the air. It began broadcasting on April 1, 1997. WETA has produced numerous HDTV programs including The Kennedy Center Presents: A Tribute to Muddy Waters; Van Gogh's Van Goghs and John Singer Sargent: Outside the Frame.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 347 public television stations. S erving nearly 100 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.


Jan McNamara

Dewey Blanton

Pat Mallinson