50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act

In 1958, President Eisenhower proposed the National Defense Education Act, including a provision to explore the potential of television to improve the quality and availability of education for America’s children. This Act passed the Senate by a vote of 66-15, the House by 212-85, and it was the beginning of the broad bipartisan support that noncommercial educational television has enjoyed in this country for 60 years.

In 1962, Congress approved the Educational Television Facilities Act -- again by overwhelming bipartisan margins -- and appropriated $32 million for the construction of educational television stations throughout the nation. As a result of that Act, educational television quickly grew from 80 to 189 stations, reaching 155 million Americans.

And five years later -- by voice votes in both the House and Senate, signifying near-universal support by both Democrats and Republicans -- Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and creating the modern public broadcasting system today.

During our 2017 Public Media Summit, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the singing of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. This video captures the spirit of the Public Broadcasting Act and how community efforts have taken public broadcasting beyond anything they could have conceived at the time of the Act.