50 years of PBS

The Public Media Alliance wishes PBS a very happy 50th Anniversary.

Since its founding in 1969, the public broadcaster has played a crucial role in informing, educating and entertaining the American public.

From Sesame Street and Masterpiece Theater to Frontline’s award-winning investigative journalism, PBS continues to offer a vital source of diverse content for all audiences, especially those lacking access to cable and internet services.

For the 17th year in a row PBS has been ranked as the most trusted institution in the US and, along with its 330 member stations across the country, the broadcaster has proved an invaluable source of information throughout the pandemic.

In fact, the pandemic has made the broadcaster’s role, values and worth clearer than ever. Bolstered by its roots in education, PBS services have excelled in providing essential educational content where schools have closed due to COVID-19, both on a local level and via its PBS Kids platform and 24/7 broadcasts for children.


But the pandemic has also forced PBS to adapt and fulfil its societal role in other ways, such as directly engaging with its viewers through the “American Portrait” project. This has given viewers the opportunity to contribute content and tell their own stories of contemporary life under the cloak of COVID-19.

In such fraught times, the role of PBS as an accountable, independent and trusted public media outlet is more important than ever, not least because of the upcoming Presidential election.

Yet despite the high level of trust among the American public and clear democratic value, federal funding for public media remains a partisan issue and has faced existential threats under the current administration.

While some reprieve has been found thanks to emergency and relief funding from congress during the pandemic, there is still a long way to go to ensure the sustainable future PBS and its member stations deserve. As a member of the Public Media Alliance (PMA), we will continue to advocate for secure future funding for PBS.

PMA wishes PBS a very happy Anniversary – here’s to another 50 years!