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|Digital television technology will expand opportunities for Penn State Public Broadcasting|
Outside The Nittany Lion Inn, there is a plaque commemorating the birthplace of national educational television and what would later become the Public Broadcasting Service. More than 100 leaders in education, broadcasting and government gathered at the Inn on April 20, 1952, to accept a challenge from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin a noncommercial educational television service.|
The Honorable Paul S. Walker, then chairman of the FCC, announced that in response to petitions from educators, channel space had been set aside for educational use. Penn State took up the challenge to create a public television station for education purposes. In 1964, the University was granted a construction permit to develop its station. In June 1965, WPSX-TV received its license and began broadcasting on Channel 3.
From that first meeting 49 years ago, much has transpired. Today, we are again at a critical crossroads for Penn State Public Broadcasting. We cannot predict what will happen in the next few years, but we do know the future of our public television station is very promising. Digital television technology will open new opportunities for public television to engage individuals, organizations and communities and to serve the University.
The FCC has mandated that all public television stations convert from the current analog TV technology to digital by 2003. Penn State Public Broadcasting has already begun the conversion process.
The digital television signal will enable us to provide far greater resources to many different audiences, because the technology will make it possible for Penn State Public Broadcasting to offer high-definition, multichannel and interactive television programming. Not only will we be able to provide these services to our regional viewing audience and the University community, but we will also have the ability to provide content across Pennsylvania and beyond, as the only public broadcasting station in the Commonwealth affiliated with a university.
The relationship between WPSX-TV and Penn State is special. Most other public television stations are affiliated with states, communities and schools. Our partnership with Penn State positions us to be a major content provider for Pennsylvania and other public television stations nationwide. With digital television, Penn State can broaden its footprint and impact.
We will have many opportunities to make a difference in peoples lives. Here are some examples of the possibilities:
Health and wellness programming
Citizens advisory programming
Penn State sports
What is making all of these initiatives possible is the convergence of television, computer and telephone technologies. This convergence, coupled with the expertise of Penn States faculty, is resulting in increased speed of information transmission and content accessibility.
Penn State Public Broadcasting is exploring the possibilities of digital television with Wisconsin Public Television and Washington State University and their respective distance education organizations. These groups are collaborating on the conversion to digital TV through the Evolving the Links: The University Digital Business Partnership Project. Other Penn State partners in the project are Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Penn State World Campus. The fruits of this partnership will be seen in the coming years.
The public television stations affiliated with universities are helping to invent tomorrow. We are excited to be among the pioneers in this initiative to shape the future of public television.
For 36 years, Penn State Public Broadcasting has delivered the finest cultural and educational programs to audiences. As educators, we have also used public television to create forums to inform citizens about our past, the present and the future and to advance and celebrate culture. This was most evident on Sept. 11 and in the days that followed, as Penn State Public Broadcasting developed and delivered responsive programming related to these tragic events in our nations history. (See story.) In addition, we have provided entertainment to large audiences through the years.
We now have a broader mandate. We must reach out to individuals, organizations and communities. We must realize greater engagement with these groups. We must inform and be informed.
You will read on the following pages about how Penn State faculty have disseminated their research broadly to the public, about how Penn State Public Broadcasting impacts the lives of children and adults and about how broadcast technology extends Penn States reach regionally, nationally and internationally.
Today, people have numerous sources for news, information, education and entertainment, yet they often turn to television first to satisfy these needs. Television, in general, continues to be a major shaper of societys perceptions. Public television and public radio will continue to play important roles as locally operated resources for news, information, education and entertainment.
This is just the beginning. Digital television will bring dramatic changes in our capabilities to touch the lives of people.
Penn State Public Broadcasting has eagerly accepted the challenges and promises of digital television to extend the scholarship and research of Penn State to a wider audience. We seek to create dynamic, two-way interaction, rather than one-way passive absorption of information that is typical of traditional TV shows. We are helping to create tomorrow, and the impact of what we do will be felt by the public here and across the nation.