PBS Reaffirms Its Mission

“Still non-commercial but not anti-commerce.” That’s how PBS programming VP Alyce Myatt describes the stance public television will take toward kid’s programming as it takes advantage of its digital future.

PBS has completed a 10-month study to develop a long-term strategic plan to continue its development of children's media in the face of intense competition. With shows like Sesame Street and Arthur and Barney, PBS was by far the leader in developing educational and entertainment programming. Now Nickelodeon, Disney and Noggin have co-opted some of that mission. According to Myatt, the PBS Kids mission will still focus on public service and educational media. She says it will also foster new sponsorship opportunities.

“I’d say the sponsorship opportunities for PBS Kids are better than ever,” she said. “We have an excellent brand that brings quality media into millions of homes. Now that we have clearly re-stated our mission, we have also aggregated our resources in house to bring our whole sponsorship group under one PBS Kids umbrella.”

According to the study, a strategic plan for PBS Kids must focus on retaining its noncommercial status. “To uphold its ‘we're not selling anything but learning’ message, PBS Kids must place educational necessity before merchandising potential in commissioning, development or acquisition of multi-media content,” the study says.

Several major brands currently sponsor PBS Kids on-air content including Kellogg’s Libby’s. Licenses for video rights to content have been sold to Artisan Entertainment and Sony Wonder.

But new sponsorship options are being tested. For example, The Mills Corporation, one of America's leading shopping center developers, announced plans on Thursday to create PBS KIDS destinations inside The Mills properties across the country by the end of 2004.

The PBS Pavilions will be co-branded with local public television stations, will feature educational environments with jungle gyms, live events, book nooks, computer kiosks and community boards with information on PBS Kids programming activities for parents and children. Local PBS affiliates will play an important role in activating the spaces with community events.

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