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PATRICK BUTLER'S PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS AT THE 2013 PUBLIC MEDIA...

Patrick Butler's Presidential Address at The 2013 Public Media Summit

Remarks as prepared for delivery on Monday, February 25, 2013.

To watch a video of this speech, click here.

Thank you very much, Polly.  And let’s give our new chairman another hand.

I’m delighted to join Polly and Rod in welcoming everyone to the 2013 Public Media Summit.

And let me say just one more word about Rod Bates:

It’s been my privilege to meet hundreds of leaders of public broadcasting over the past two years.

And I am always impressed by your dedication and creativity, your sense of mission, your deep experience and keen intelligence, your good humor and dauntless confidence, and the feeling of family that pervades this industry.

But I haven’t seen all of these qualities embodied more completely in a single person than in my friend and the chairman who brought me here, Rod Bates.

It's been an honor and a genuine pleasure to work with you these past two years, my friend, and with everyone else in this room I thank you for your service and I wish you and your lovely bride all the best in the next chapter of your lives.           

I also look forward to working with our new chair, Polly Anderson. 

Nobody has been a more energetic champion of this Association than Polly, and I want to wish her well in this new position of leadership in our industry -- as well as in her new assignment as general manager of WUCF-TV in Orlando.

Let me also thank our board’s new vice-chairs for their willingness to take on these important assignments.

John Harris, of Prairie Public Broadcasting in North Dakota (by way of Martin, Tennessee), will be our professional vice-chair, succeeding Polly.

Ed Driggs, a member of the board of WTVI in Charlotte, and a member of the APTS board since 2010, is our new lay vice-chair, succeeding the wonderful Elizabeth Christopherson, whose service on this board and in this industry has been an example for us all. 

Thank you, John; thank you, Ed; and thank you, Elizabeth, for your outstanding leadership.

I’d also like to welcome the very large crop of new and recycled general managers who have joined or rejoined our ranks since our last Summit.

Of the ten new GMs in our system, five are with us today.

Please join me in welcoming:

Royal Aills of RSU Public Television in Claremore, Oklahoma;

Roy Clem of Alabama Public Television;

Tim Fallon of WLVT in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania;

James Morghese of WKYU in Bowling Green, Kentucky;

and Ray Timothy of Utah Education Network.

I am pleased to report this morning that your Association is doing well.

The Public Media Summit of 2013 is the most successful in the history of our annual conference.

We have a record number of registrants, including a record number of stations represented and a record number of lay leaders attending.

We have a record number of sponsors, a record number of exhibitors, a record level of revenue, an outstanding program of speakers and panelists.

And this year we will inaugurate a Public Service Media Expo on Capitol Hill that will become an annual showcase for the best in public broadcasting.

Your Association has been greatly strengthened in the past year by a membership drive that has yielded some very positive results.

When I came here two years ago, barely 70 percent of public television stations were members of this Association. 

Too many of our largest-market stations were among the missing.

Today I can report that every member of the Major Market Group is also a member of our Association. 

And I can report that 80 percent of all public television stations are members of our Association – the highest percentage in ten years.

Your staff here at Global Headquarters is profoundly grateful for this rising and rousing support.

And we are particularly grateful to the members of the Major Market Group – and to our dear friend Cynthia Fenneman of American Public Television -- who donated an extra ten percent in dues to create a special Challenge Fund to encourage new members to join our Association.

It worked.  The Challenge Fund has attracted 10 new member stations to the Association of Public Television Stations since last October.

Would all of you – and especially Jon Abbott, who had this great idea and volunteered the first additional contribution -- please stand up and accept the thanks of this entire Association for your generosity and your leadership?

Let me also thank my colleagues in the leadership of the national organizations – Pat Harrison at CPB, Paula Kerger at PBS and Gary Knell at NPR – for their relentless support of our membership drive, and for their good counsel on all the strategic issues facing our industry.

The four of us agreed on a statement of principles last fall that for the first time enumerated the most important values of public broadcasting and committed us all to upholding them together. 

We are literally on the same page – or, more precisely, the same two pages – and we are working more closely to advance the goals of this industry than the G-4 may ever have done before.

And, as always, I cannot begin to adequately thank my 13 intrepid and endlessly resourceful colleagues on the staff of this Association for all the long hours, hard work, good ideas, impressive skills, inspiring passion, and love for this industry and its mission that they bring to the office every day. 

Please join me in thanking Cait Beroza, Ken Blunt, Joyce Burgess Schwartz, Tela Hansom Pitt, Tammye Heatley, Kesha Jones, Stacey Karp, Jen Kieley, Emil Mara, Emily Markham, Kate Riley and Rob Rose for a job extraordinarily well done.  Take a bow, folks.

All of us know that it’s really all of you who make this industry work, who do much for so many Americans, who make the case for public broadcasting so compelling. 

You’re the people we look up to, the leaders we are proud to serve.  We are honored to welcome you to Washington today, and we are profoundly grateful for your support.

The enhanced support you’ve given our Association could not have come at a more propitious time, because the next four years will be among the most fateful in the history of public broadcasting.

We face the prospect of the most comprehensive and complicated broadcast spectrum auctions we’ve ever attempted in this country.

In the context of this spectrum reform, we will explore new revenue opportunities in spectrum leasing and channel sharing that may have a significant effect on our system’s finances and your stations’ services.

And in the midst of all this, we have the potential to produce system and station efficiencies that can yield millions of dollars in savings -- and allow all of you to invest more in the local programming and community service the American people love.

We will also negotiate over the next two years new carriage agreements with cable, satellite and telephone companies that deliver our signal to 85 percent of our audience.

Issues in our industry don’t get much more important than spectrum and carriage, and we are fortunate to have the right person in charge of these issues at this Association: 

our irrepressible and endlessly resourceful Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel and Regulatory Counsel, Lonna Thompson.

In the next four years, we will also have the opportunity to re-invent our original mission of “educational television,” by fully embracing PBS Learning Media everywhere and expanding the local educational services for which so many of you are so highly regarded.

We will have the opportunity to create whole new lines of business for our stations, including fee-for-service enterprises and a host of other public services that are consistent with our mission and that have already generated significant revenue in many of your markets.

We will have the opportunity to energize and mobilize the millions of fans of public broadcasting as never before, through a greatly improved 170 Million Americans grassroots initiative and an ambitious new focus on the power of social media.

And we will have the opportunity to persuade a rising generation of political leaders, in Washington and in every State capitol, that public service media are America’s smartest investment, richly deserving of government support.

These are the historic opportunities and challenges we face in public broadcasting today, and these are the themes of the Public Media Summit of 2013.

Despite all the vagaries and vicissitudes of the past political year in this city and around the country, I can report to you today that federal funding for public broadcasting remains in stable condition – and that’s a huge victory in an environment like this one.

If 2012 proved nothing else, it proved that opposing federal funding of public broadcasting is not the surest way to political victory in the United States of America.

Thanks to Governor Romney – a good man in a tough spot -- we had the closest thing to a national referendum on federal funding of public broadcasting that we are ever likely to have in the election of 2012.

And thanks to President Obama’s steadfast support – and an extraordinary outpouring of support from millions of Americans who expressed their support for us through social media -- public broadcasting won. 

We are grateful to the President for standing with us when it counted, and we look forward to working with him and his Administration on the goals we share in common these next four years.

We are grateful also for the unanimous support we enjoy among the Democrats in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. 

We never want to take that support for granted, and when you see these Members tomorrow, please be sure to thank them for being such stalwart champions of our industry.

We are also immensely grateful to the many Republicans who have stood with us when the going got tough – for them as well as for us.

Don Young, a senior Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee from Alaska, has agreed to serve as co-chair of the Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus with our hero Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.

For the first time in years, we have Republican Senators and Republican Representatives signing letters to the Appropriations Committees to make our funding a federal priority.       

We will present our Champion of Public Broadcasting award tomorrow morning to Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, a member of the House Republican Leadership, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, chairman of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee – and a good friend of this industry.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, a member of the Appropriations Committee, and the former chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, is a sponsor of our inaugural Public Service Media Expo tomorrow.

Sixty-eight Republicans currently serving in the House of Representatives and nine Republicans currently serving in the United States Senate have supported us on specific votes to secure our funding in the past eight years alone.

With friends like these, we have withstood the most aggressive political assault on public broadcasting in two decades.

Funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is steady at $445 million.

Funding for Ready to Learn is steady at $27.3 million.

Funding for Rural Digital is steady at $3 million.

With everyone else receiving federal funds, we face the prospect of a 5.1 percent sequester on Friday of this week if Congress fails to find a better alternative.

This will hurt, as the 13 percent cut in our overall federal funding has hurt – including the loss of the PTFP program, the CPB Digital program, and one-third of the Rural Digital program.

But we have never suggested that public broadcasting should be immune to general government belt-tightening.

And if the entire federal government had sustained the level of cuts that we sustained in the 112th Congress, the federal budget would be $500 billion smaller than it is today.

We are honored, I suppose, to be a model of forbearance in this age of austerity, but this should be sacrifice enough from us.

Unfortunately, there are still powerful people in Washington who would like to see our federal funding eliminated completely.

The new chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that controls our funding told me face to face last month that the sooner he can cancel our funding, the happier he will be.

(You may want to look for a president who doesn’t elicit such clear expressions of violent opposition, but that’s an issue for another day.)

Though Congressman Kingston is more candid than most, I fear he’s not the only one who feels that way, and we must gird for yet another battle for our funding in the 113th Congress just convened.

The battle lines, for us and for our opponents, are centered on the newer Members of the House and Senate.

Nearly half the House and nearly one-third of the Senate have served two years or less in Washington. 

We have an extraordinary opportunity to introduce them to the value of public service media, and we must make the most of that opportunity in the next two years.

We will seize this opportunity with the most comprehensive advocacy and education campaign this industry has ever seen.

Our challenge going forward is not to gear up for a single legislative showdown but to constantly tell our story to our lawmakers and other stakeholders in public broadcasting.

This is why our 170 Million Americans grassroots initiative and social media strategies are so important.

This is why we need the “grass-tops” APTS Leadership Council that now boasts members in 44 States -- 17 more than last year – to be a true nationwide network of high-level ambassadors for public broadcasting.

This is why Operation Groundswell – launched last fall to get every Senator and every Representative to visit his or her local public television station to see what you really do – must continue well beyond last year’s election season and become a regular part of your management mission.

And this is why we have recruited what I believe to be the strongest team of legislative and political consultants in the history of this Association – some of whom you will meet this afternoon – to give us the best counsel and the best possible access to the powers that be, in Washington and around the country.

While you may still be exhausted by the 2012 elections, Washington has already moved on to the elections of 2014. 

History teaches us that the opposition party tends to do very well in the mid-term elections of a President’s sixth year, and the math in this election cycle starts out on the opposition’s side.

Democrats must defend 21 seats in the Senate next year, Republicans only fourteen.

The prospect that the Senate will join the House under Republican control in the 114th Congress is very real.

And our mission in these next two years is to build a sturdy consensus in support of public broadcasting that will endure through Republican and Democratic Congresses and Presidencies alike.

That’s why it’s so important to spend these next two years educating our lawmakers, old and new, about the bipartisan support we have traditionally enjoyed – and making the case for continuing that bipartisan support well into the future.

Long before President Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, President Eisenhower saw the potential of “educational television” in improving American education --particularly in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. 

Title VII of Eisenhower’s National Defense Education Act of 1958, passed in the wake of the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, dealt entirely with the use of such media for educational purposes, and it was enacted by Congress by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Barry Goldwater was responsible for securing the first grant from the federal government for the fledgling enterprise we know now as Sesame Street.

Gerald Ford first proposed “advance funding” for public broadcasting, to shield us from undue political influence in our programming. 

He was aided in this proposal by his wild-eyed liberal chiefs of staff Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

Lynn Cheney -- who is, if anything, even more conservative than her husband -- gave Ken Burns the largest grant in the history of the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete his masterpiece, The Civil War.

And Ronald Reagan himself – the patron saint of the modern conservative movement – blessed the public-private partnership that lies at the heart of public broadcasting when he told Ken that “government should provide the spark, and the private sector should do the rest.”

Generations of Republicans, as well as Democrats, in Congress and in the White House have endorsed this funding model. 

We pay special tribute today to three of the greatest champions of public broadcasting in the history of our industry: the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the retiring Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, and the retiring Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Tomorrow we will present our Champion of Public Broadcasting award to Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who has been a generous supporter of public broadcasting for all of her years as the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress.

We could not ask for more faithful friends, and we are very grateful for their decades of generous support.

We are also encouraged to see a new generation of political leaders making a new commitment to our work.

We heard last year from Dave Heineman, the conservative Governor of Nebraska and chairman of the National Governors Association, about the indispensable service that Rod Bates and NET provide the people of his State. 

And since then, Republican Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Bill Haslam of Tennessee and Mike Pence of Indiana have seen the extraordinary return on investment that public service media provide their States, and they have restored or increased State funding for public broadcasting as a result.

And a whole new crop of Democratic Senators – starting with Virginia’s own Tim Kaine -- seems poised to support our federal funding every bit as vigorously as our old friends have done. 

But it’s the case of Indiana’s Mike Pence that gives me special confidence that our case, properly made, has an extraordinary power of persuasion.

Before he was elected Governor last year, Mike Pence was a Member of Congress, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee – the most conservative Members of the House of Representatives  – and chairman of the House Republican Conference.

To put it mildly, Congressman Pence had not been the most ardent champion of public broadcasting until Ken Burns and I had the opportunity to tell him about all the amazing things you do every day.

He was impressed by your deep commitment to education.  He was impressed by your work in creating well-informed citizens through your in-depth coverage of State legislatures and city councils, as well as Congressmen. 

He was impressed by your work in public safety, about which he knew nothing. 

He was impressed by the fact that you do important, essential things that no one else in the vast media universe does;

that you serve everybody everywhere, for free, including people and places our commercial brethren don’t reach;

and that you produce an extraordinary 6-to-1 return on investment for every federal dollar committed to public broadcasting.

But perhaps most of all, he was impressed that his hero Ronald Reagan had blessed this work and the way we finance it through the most successful public-private partnership in the history of this country.

And as soon as he was sworn in as Governor of Indiana last month, Mike Pence put money into the State budget for public broadcasting for the first time in eight years.

The other thing that impressed Congressman Pence was the fact that government support for the “diffusion of knowledge” goes all the way back to the Constitution of the United States.

America’s Founders went to a great deal of trouble and expense to furnish their fellow citizens with the knowledge they needed to govern themselves.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers granted to Congress, and one of them is the seemingly mundane power “to establish Post Offices and Post Roads.”

Those post offices and post roads were, in effect, the public media platforms of the 18th century. 

There were dozens of periodicals being published in the colonies and in the early days of the Republic, but their circulation was largely limited to the major cities emerging on the Atlantic seacoast.

To ensure “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge,” in James Madison’s words, as “the only guardian of true liberty,” Congress passed the Postal Act of 1792 for the express purpose of building an infrastructure to carry information useful to the citizen to every corner of the young America.

A new government -- crushed by enormous debt incurred from the prosecution of the Revolutionary War – nevertheless appropriated a significant sum of money for the construction of post offices and the maintenance of post roads, to ensure that all people everywhere could have access to the knowledge they needed to function as citizens.

Beyond that, the government set postal rates for these periodicals – including those in vehement opposition to the government -- ten times lower than for regular mail, deliberately forgoing substantial revenue for its Treasury in the interest of distributing knowledge. 

In an era before the income tax -- when the tax on whiskey and imports and revenue from postal service were the principal sources of government income – that revenue forgone constituted a powerful commitment by our Founders to “universal service,” as we would call it today.

And in his last public words as our first President of the United States, George Washington urged his fellow citizens to:

“Promote … as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge.  In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.”

Nor was subsidizing the distribution of news enough for them. 

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution also empowered Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts,” both to civilize their new country and to encourage innovation and enterprise.

And there’s this:

“Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially of the lower class of people, are so extremely wise and useful,” said founder John Adams, “that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”

Information.  Education.  Enlightened public opinion. The progress of science and the useful arts.  Universal service.  Binding the nation together. 

Does any of this sound familiar?

This is what we do in public broadcasting.  These are the missions of public service media.  This is work worth doing, worth defending, worth funding in the 21st century as much as in the 18th.

And anyone who disagrees should take it up with our friends Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and the Father of Our Country, George Washington.

It is true that there are many sources of information available to modern Americans that were not available to our forebears. 

There are many channels of television and radio, millions of sites on the Internet, countless communities of interest in social media, as well as the newspapers and other periodicals familiar to our ancestors.    

But a steady diet of crime, traffic, weather and sports news will not nourish the citizen. 

Entirely predictable or ill-informed opinion, however ubiquitous on cable and the Internet, will not lead our country to enlightenment. 

Honey Boo-Boo, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars are the new claims to fame for today’s Learning Channel, Discovery and the History Channel – and these are not the keys to educational achievement in America.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these services.  They serve useful purposes, or at least entertaining ones.

But the fact remains that, despite the thousand channels on cable and the millions of sites on the Internet, no one else in the media universe does what we do.

No one else ensures that every citizen, everywhere can have the benefit of the highest-quality educational, informational and cultural services, using the latest in communications technology, every day, for free.

We offer “food and fire for the mind,” in Benjamin Franklin’s felicitous phrase, and we believe our government should be proud of its investment in one of the most successful programs ever to receive a federal appropriation.

Thanks to public broadcasting:

  • 90 million pre-school children have gotten ready to learn and succeed in school over the past forty years.
     
  • Hundreds of thousands of students are benefiting from virtual high schools that bring advanced studies to the most remote places in America.
     
  • Millions of students – including tens of thousands of home schoolers – have free access to standards-based, curriculum-aligned, interactive digital learning tools that are revolutionizing the teaching and learning experience in our country.

These tools are based on the best of public television and radio programming as well as treasures from the Library of Congress, the National Archives, NASA, the National Science Foundation and many other government institutions. 

And they are leading to higher achievement in school, and promising greater success in life.

Thanks to public broadcasting:

  • Hundreds of thousands of second-chance students and adult learners are completing their GED requirements and earning a high-school equivalency diploma.
     
  • Lifelong learners are training and retraining for the jobs of the new American economy – including the magnificent veterans of America’s longest wars.
     
  • Citizens in many States have in-depth access to the proceedings and policy discussions of their State and local governments.
     
  • A growing number of State governments and federal agencies have a secure and versatile platform for emergency communications.
     
  • More science is taught to more people every Wednesday night on public television than in all the classrooms of America combined.
     
  • The Great Performances on the world’s greatest stages are available, for free, to the Great Plains and great cities alike.
     
  • American history is preserved and American culture is celebrated more thoroughly and thoughtfully than in any other medium, both locally and nationally.
     
  • And the most in-depth, most comprehensive, most civil, most trusted news and information produced in America provides essential civic education to 170 million of our fellow citizens every month.
  •  All of this for $1.35 per citizen per year – one hundredth of one percent of the federal budget.

Congress shouldn’t be targeting us; they should be thanking us for doing more with less than any other institution in America.

That $1.35 is the foundation for everything we do.  It pays for the platform on which we build all our local and national programming, all our educational services, all our public safety networks, everything we do for our communities across the country.

There’s a reason these funds come to us as Community Service Grants.  Congress expects us to serve our communities through the only locally-owned and operated broadcasting enterprises left in America.

In an age of extreme media consolidation, each of your stations ensures that the standards of your community are honored and the interests of your community are served.

Every one of you has complete autonomy to produce, purchase and broadcast the programming best suited to your community’s needs and tastes.

There is no dictate from a central authority in Washington or anywhere else about what news you report, what programs you run, or even when you run them.

You make those decisions for yourselves, creating your own local programming and choosing from dozens of national programming sources the best offering of news, information, culture and educational content for your viewers and listeners.

The typical public radio station, for example, produces 28 percent of its own programming, with 30 percent coming from NPR and 42 percent coming from other public radio stations and national distributors.

And because you make those decisions so well, public television and public radio are, by far, the most trusted and valued media in the United States of America.    

That trust extends right across the political spectrum: majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike have positive opinions of public broadcasting and support federal funding for it in overwhelming numbers.

Even 44 percent of those who identify themselves as Tea Party advocates oppose the elimination of federal funding for public broadcasting.

A public opinion study released just last week found that, for the tenth year in a row, public television is the most trusted institution in America.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they trust PBS “a great deal,” and the next institution – America’s courts of law – finished a distant second at 27 percent.

And once again, only military defense outranks public television as the best value for the American tax dollar.  Defense was described as an “excellent” or “good” value by 77 percent, public television by 75 percent.

And 76 percent said they believe federal funding for public television is money well spent.

The Government Accountability Office and many others who have studied our finances have unanimously concluded that this federal investment is essential to the sustainability of our system and the “diffusion of knowledge” to every American.

The farther away from the big cities you go, the smaller the private donor base, the fewer and smaller the foundations and corporations, and the more our stations depend on this federal appropriation. 

And by the time you get to Wyoming, where the cows outnumber the people, the federal appropriation is absolutely essential.

We are a system in which the large and small markets support one another with programming, financing, marketing, distribution and operational efficiencies.

Boston supports Bozeman, and Nebraska supports New York, and vice versa.  We’re all in this together.  If it doesn’t work this way, it doesn’t work.

It is this system that makes it possible for us to serve the many American communities whom others do not find it profitable to serve: rural Americans, small-town Americans, inner-city Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and more.

While our friends in commercial broadcasting focus on the 18-to-49 year old suburbanites who drive the consumer economy, we focus on everybody, regardless of their economic or geographic or demographic status.

For us, they’re not consumers.  They’re citizens and they’re students – and that’s why public broadcasting can never be commercial, why we receive public funding, and why it’s essential that we do.   

The importance of our mission, the success of its execution, the ubiquity of its reach, the efficiency of its financing, and the indispensability of its public funding should convince any political leader, in any political party, that public service media are America’s smartest investment, richly deserving of public support. 

If we can tell that story well enough, often enough, to enough people in Congress and in the State governments, I believe our prospects for continued public funding will brighten considerably in the next two years.

It worked with Rick Scott in Florida.  It worked with Mike Pence in Indiana.  It worked with Erskine Bowles of Simpson-Bowles fame.  And it will work with our leaders in Washington, D.C.

But we have other bright prospects, as well, and we will also explore those in the course of this Summit.

Thanks to the Grant Center funded by CPB and managed jointly by this Association and DEI, we have helped secure more than $57 million in federal and foundation grants for stations and their partners in the past year alone.

Thanks to the work of the Community Development Partnership, we have identified more than $200 million in untapped donor potential that we can harvest with fundraising practices already common to the most successful 20 percent of our stations.

Thanks to our Spectrum Opportunities Task Force, we are exploring a growing array of spectrum leasing and channel sharing proposals that may produce significant new revenue for our industry.

Thanks to the work of innovative pioneers like Linda O’Bryon in South Carolina, Rod Bates in Nebraska, Tom Axtell in Nevada, and Mark Vogelzang in Maine, we are creating a whole new fee-for-service business enterprise – ranging from job training to information management – that can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to many stations’ annual revenues.

And thanks to the good work of many in this room, we are creating powerful new efficiencies in public broadcasting that hold the promise of tens of millions of dollars – or more -- in annual cost savings for our system.

No one on Earth is more familiar with pledges than the people in this room, and I have an historic one for you to consider today.       

I propose that we make a billion-dollar pledge to one another -- that over the next four years, we will:

  • preserve our federal funding with a strong bipartisan consensus;
     
  •  restore the State funding we’ve lost in this long recession;
     
  •  match those government resources dollar for dollar with new revenue and new savings from our own enterprise and efficiency;
     
  •  and put our industry on the most solid financial footing it has ever enjoyed, by the time the next Presidential election comes around.

This is an ambitious goal, but I believe it’s a worthy one for a great industry and the highly talented leadership assembled in this room.

Oscar Wilde once said that “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”

This is manifestly untrue, but it is important that civilization have as honored and secure a place in our society as commercialization.

We in public television aspire to be that civilizing force in American society, the preserver of the national memory, the greatest classroom, the grandest stage, the community center and the champion of good citizenship.

We hope to pursue these ambitions by creating new business models, embracing new technologies, streamlining our operations, embedding ourselves deeply in American education, and maintaining the high standards of programming and public service the American people have come to expect of us.

This is the work we begin in earnest at this Summit.  This is the turning point on which we stand today.

We’re glad you’re here.  We’re going to work you pretty hard.  And I am quite confident that if we all work together, the future of public service media in America will be very bright, indeed. 

# # #

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