Noncoms Get Dough for Digital Archiving

A group of noncommercial broadcasters has received almost $3 million ($2,846,625, to be exact) to help archive and preserve digital noncommercial television programming and related Web content.

The cash will go to a partnership of WNET New York and WGBH Boston, the two largest PBS' program suppliers; PBS; and New York University.

That partnership is conducting a three-year planning project to determine the rules of the road for preserving digital noncom product like Frontline, Nova, Nature and Great Performances as TV enters the digital age and TV shows begin being produced in digital-only formats.

The money is a grant from the Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). The library is trying to prevent the sort of wholesale losses of TV programming that typify the early days of analog television, when when many live shows were not recorded, or if they were, the recordings were eventually destroyed for lack of space and interest.

In the here today, gone tomorrow world of digital content, the need to quickly establish a regime for archiving content is clear.

"Just as programs on videotape can be lost without proper storage or playback equipment," said WNET VP/Chief Technology Officer Ken Devine, "in their own way, programs in digital formats are in just as much danger – without proper plans for long-term preservation, storage and playback, they, too, could easily disappear forever.”

The grant was one of eight given out, but the only one specifically for archiving TV content.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.