ALEXANDRIA, VA—In this age of digital convergence, where investments are being made in next-generation content and many institutions are re-tooling business models to take advantage of the new media, the Markle Foundation has awarded the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) a $250,000 grant to collaborate on the development of a long-term, multiple media strategy for children and families, which will drive the development of children’s media for future generations. PBS will match the Markle investment. The announcement was made today by PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell and Markle Foundation President Zoë Baird.
This work is a part of Markle’s Interactive Media for Children program, which is focused on researching the impact of interactive media on children and translating that research into the development and production of children’s interactive media products.
As long-time leaders in quality children’s programming, both on-air and online, PBS and its local member stations are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities digital convergence offers to serve children and families. The PBS/Markle project will accelerate the strategic planning process by taking advantage of PBS’s unique strengths as a visionary educational leader and public broadcaster, and Markle’s understanding of children’s media research and strategic planning skills.
The strategy, to be based on available research and trends regarding the impact of technology on children and families in the 21st century, will be created by experts from multiple disciplines brought together by PBS and Markle. These experts will convene from May through August for a series of workshops. They will review the skills, capabilities, and motivations of those in the public broadcasting community, from national producers to local station personnel, as they formulate a content and business plan for the future.
In addition, an evaluation strategy will be developed in order to determine how best to disseminate the results to the public. Elements of the final plan will be published in late Fall 2001 on PBS.org, Markle.org and in a summary booklet.
“To secure PBS’s position as the leading source for children’s media in the digital age, we must refine our creative philosophy and business model,” said Ms. Mitchell. “The Markle Foundation grant provides a valuable partnership to help grow a unified strategy for strengthening our non-commercial service to a broad and diverse audience of children and families.”
“Markle’s Interactive Media for Children program focuses on understanding how technology affects our children and encouraging the production and distribution of research-driven interactive media,” said Ms. Baird. “Markle is committed to working with PBS to direct the extraordinary power of digital technology to help children enjoy learning, and grow into intelligent, active citizens.”
The strategic plan will focus on six key areas:
- Content creation and programming: Exploring how new media affects learning and how PBS can use that knowledge to create more compelling educational programming for all children and families.
- Operating and content delivery platforms: Determining the “rules” for developing projects in the kid’s space including guidelines for accessibility, privacy, commercialism, etc.
- Presence within local communities: Identifying the roles and relationships for PBS member stations to determine which models will differentiate and add value at the local level. Evaluating current outreach and supplemental educational materials and looking at the roles Ready to Learn coordinators can play.
- Business models and partnerships: Finding effective funding models and potential content and distribution partners.
- Marketing and promotion strategies: Strengthening the way PBS promotes PBS KIDS content leveraging TV, the Web and other outlets to develop a convergent approach.
- Evaluation strategy and dissemination plan: Formulating a structure of soliciting and evaluating audience feedback for all media to effectively communicate findings.
To ensure that the planning process is broadly inclusive as well as collaborative, PBS and Markle have engaged David Kleeman, of the American Center for Children and Media, to direct the project, maintain communications, and compile the findings of the experts. With his team, Mr. Kleeman will define the unique and critical role of public broadcasting in the digital age with the objective of building the strongest possible media environment for children and families.
Prior to joining the Center, Mr. Kleeman was at PBS from 1983 to 1988 where he held positions of increasing responsibility including program associate and assistant director of children’s and cultural programming, associate director of program operations and lastly associate director of scheduling. Mr. Kleeman is an author, speaker, strategist, and analyst on children’s media. He has served as an advisor to such companies and organizations as Fox Family, Microsoft, the MIT Media Lab, and UNICEF.
PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, nonprofit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation’s 347 public television stations. Serving nearly 100 million people each week, PBS enriches the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services on noncommercial television, the Internet and other media.