Public Broadcasting Makes Major Investment in "New Media Age"

In an "increasingly complicated and competitive media environment," public broadcasting intends to be there. So declared the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on March 30, when it announced an almost $2 million investment in projects for National Public Radio and Public Interactive. CPB has long held the intellectual high ground in broadcasting, and its new investments are intended to continue that tradition. The goal of the program is to create "new content and services which will broaden the public square of ideas and civic discourse," according to a corporate press release.

"Opportunities are multiplying for public service on existing and new delivery platforms. Our aim is to ensure that listeners find the content they value as they move in unpredictable ways to an unpredictable array of new media. This means that public radio must redefine, if not reinvent itself. That is why we are making these significant investments," said CPB president Robert T. Coonrod.

$1 million will go toward NPR's efforts to reach new audiences through programs streamed via Sirius Radio, which plans to launch a nationwide, direct-to-car digital radio service later this year. More than a hundred music, news, and information channels will be available on the Sirius system, two of which will be programmed by NPR. "Providing program streams for Sirius Radio presents NPR and its member stations with a unique opportunity to create a new generation of public radio content," NPR president Kevin Klose commented.

An investment of $650,000 will support the first year of Public Interactive's Public NewsRoom, an online, interactive news service that aggregates local, national, and international news. Public Newsroom will include a fully searchable database. "The Internet is making fundamental changes in how we, as a society, consume and react to news on both a local, national, and international basis," said Public Interactive president Tom Lix. This year CPB will award up to $8.6 million for projects that focus on public radio's future—including new broadcast content.