PBS News

PBS KIDS INITIATIVE TO LAUNCH IN JULY

Significant New Spending Planned for New Interactive Digital Channel, Children's Programs, Web Resources, and Ready to Learn Service

PASADENA, CA, January 18, 1999 - The Public Broadcasting Service will launch PBS KIDS CHANNEL in mid-1999 as its first all-digital broadcast channel, PBS President Ervin S. Duggan announced today at the Television Critics Association meeting in the Ritz Carlton Hotel here. The new interactive digital channel is the centerpiece of a sweeping PBS KIDS initiative, which will broaden PBS's efforts on television, on the Internet, and in outreach to children and families.

PBS KIDS CHANNEL will be a 24-hour channel for children from pre-school through age 12, Duggan said. It will feature some of PBS's most popular and respected series, including TELETUBBIES, BARNEY & FRIENDS, WIMZIE'S HOUSE, NODDY, WISHBONE and ZOBOOMAFOO. Other major series, including new projects funded through the PBS KIDS initiative's increased children's programming budget, will be announced as negotiations are completed.

The PBS KIDS initiative, of which the new channel will be a part, will be fueled by a substantial increase in funding for content serving children and families, Duggan said.

"PBS, its producers and member stations invented a new genre called educational children's programming," Mr. Duggan said. "In that tradition, our new PBS KIDS CHANNEL(tm) will extend our franchise to 24 hours a day, with more programs that parents trust and kids love.

"PBS and its member stations already deliver more top-quality children's series than any other television service," the PBS president continued. "Our intention now is to propel our service to children and families to even greater heights."

The PBS KIDS initiative features the following elements:

From its inception, PBS KIDS CHANNEL will be the nation's first interactive broadcast service. In association with Intel Corporation, for example, PBS has enabled ZOBOOMAFOO creators Chris and Martin Kratt to produce the preschool nature series as a fully interactive digital program enhanced with games, puzzles and children's activities that take unique advantage of digital broadcast technology. The first four enhanced episodes of ZOBOOMAFOO will launch in mid-1999. Eventually, every episode will be enhanced with these interactive activities. Other new children's interactive content will be added to the channel over time.

One of several new noncommercial digital channels PBS is developing for launch in 1999-2000, PBS KIDS CHANNEL will be made available to every PBS member station for local broadcast. Seven PBS stations introduced digital service in November 1998 and PBS stations reaching one-third of the country plan digital broadcasts in 1999.

The PBS KIDS initiative builds upon PBS's highly respected brand and proven record of service to children and families. A 1998 Annenberg Public Policy Center study found 99.1 percent of PBS's children's programs to be "high quality"-compared to commercial broadcasting's 24.1 percent and basic cable's 23.7 percent. The same study also noted that only PBS's children's schedule was virtually free of violence, harsh language and sexual innuendo.

Children who watch PBS children's programs, according to a 1998 Roper Youth Report, are more engaged than non-viewers in the kinds of educational and community activities parents generally seek for their kids. The report found that young PBS viewers were more likely to read, visit the library, to demonstrate interest in science and computers, to play a musical instrument, or to participate in arts and crafts projects than children who didn't watch PBS.

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of noncommercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week. PBS Online can be accessed at www.pbs.org.

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