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Broadcasting Timeline

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Timeline: 1950s-60s
from A History of Public Broadcasting
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April 14: FCC's Sixth Report and Order allocates local TV channels, reserves 242 for noncom educational TV. October: Ford Foundation funds Educational Television and Radio Center in Ann Arbor to distribute programs. In latter-day tryout of Cooperation Doctrine, Ford also begins Sunday arts magazine Omnibus on CBS, hosted by Alistair Cooke [article]. (It airs five seasons, the last on ABC.)


May 25: The University of Houston signs on the first noncommercial educational TV station, KUHT [article].

KQED in San Francisco pioneers the public TV auction.

Sept. 2: Congress passes National Defense Education Act, which aids numerous instructional TV projects.

Jan. 24: Under new president John White, Educational Television and Radio Center adds "National" to its name (it later becomes National Educational Television, NET). July: NETRC moves from Ann Arbor to New York City.

December: Eastern Educational Television Network (EEN) incorporates after 1959 demonstration of hookup between Boston and Durham, N.H.

advocate Frieda
Hennock of the FCC
appears on KUHT's
debut broadcast, 1953.
Educational Radio Network established ("Eastern" is added to name in 1963). Midwest Program for Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) experimentally broadcasts ITV to six states from airliner circling above Indiana.
May 1: President Kennedy signs Educational Television Facilities Act [text of law], bringing first major federal aid to pubcasting (predecessor of today's Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, PTFP). July 10: All-Channel Receiver Act, aiding UHF channels, signed into law. Sept. 9: New York City finally gets a public TV station, as WNDT (later WNET) goes on-air. FCC approves Lorenzo Milam's KRAB-FM in Seattle, first of "Krab Nebula" community radio stations.

Jan. 25: WGBH begins airing Julia Child's first French Chef series (later distributed nationally). July 25: FCC allows Instructional Television Fixed Service microwave for education.

FCC authorizes 100th noncommercial educational TV station. June 10: FCC authorizes first statewide educational TV translator network, in Utah. Dec. 7-8: NAEB First Conference on Long-Range Financing proposes presidential commission on future funding.

Nov. 10: Carnegie Corporation of New York establishes Carnegie Commission on Educational Television (Carnegie I). Fred Rogers' program, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, debuts on EEN regional hookup (goes national on NET in 1968).

Aug. 1: Ford Foundation proposes to the FCC (in vain) that profits from a nonprofit communications satellite system for all broadcasters would go to public broadcasting.

Julia Child and producer Russ Morash pioneered
how-to programs.

Jan. 26: Carnegie I releases report proposing federal aid and an extension of educational TV called "public television" [summary]. Feb. 23: WETA premieres Washington Week in Review (it goes national on PBS in 1969). March: NAEB Second Conference on Long-range Financing reviews Carnegie report. April: NAEB report, The Hidden Medium, promotes aid to educational radio as well [summary]. April: Though Carnegie report and original legislation would have aided only TV, the final Senate bill creating CPB also includes radio, thanks to a concerted campaign by Jerold Sandler and other radio advocates [excerpt from Jack Mitchell's history of public radio]. Nov. 5: Ford Foundation launches Public Broadcasting Laboratory (PBL), live Sunday-night magazine program. (CBS starts 60 Minutes a year later.) Nov. 7: President Johnson signs Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, authorizing federal operating aid to stations through new agency, CPB [text of law & LBJ's message].

March: CPB incorporates. KQED, San Francisco, innovates in news programming with Newsroom, begun during newspaper strike.

NET begins regular interconnection for educational TV; The Forsyte Saga is a hit. CPB begins general support grants to stations (later called Community Service Grants). Precursor of Internet, ARPANET, hooked up by researchers. Nov. 3: PBS is incorporated [document]. (Its board chooses Hartford Gunn as first president, February 1970.) Nov. 10: Sesame Street debuts.

A 1999 stamp recognized Sesame Street as one of the Top 10 "icons" of the '70s [article].