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CPB Creates American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The Library of Congress and iconic noncommercial TV station/programmer WGBH Boston will collaborate to house what has been dubbed the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which administers federal funding for noncommercial TV and radio, launched an inventory of public media content in 2007 and the result was 2.5 million "records" consisting of a mix of complete programs, raw footage, unedited interview, speeches and music sessions. According to CPB, 40,000 hours of that are being digitized and will be preserved in the archive with funding from CPB.

The content includes local, regional and national content from noncommercial stations around the country dating from the 1950's through about 2010.

Content ranges from an interview with Jesse Owens to Star Wars commentary from George Lucas to 1960 footage of then presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.

"This is an important step in CPB's commitment to preserve and make available to the American public the tremendous amount of high quality programming and content produced by public media television and radio stations over the past several decades and in the future," said Patty Cahill, chairman of the CPB board, in a statement. "We are pleased that the Library of Congress and WGBH will continue this culturally and historically significant project on behalf of the public media system and the American people." 

A national advisory panel recommended the Library of Congress/WGBH collaboration. Among the members of that panel were Sony board chairman Howard Stringer, ABC News/NPR contributor Cokie Roberts, and iconic noncom documentary producer Ken Burns.

Material will be housed at both the library in Washington and at WGBH, which will team up to expand the archive by acquiring additional content as well governance and long-term strategy.