Thirteen/WNET leads new PBS digital archive initiative

Thirteen/WNET New York has been awarded nearly $3 million by the Library of Congress for “Preserving Digital Public Television,” a new three-year planning project that will establish the groundwork for preserving digital television programming.

The station will be joined by public broadcaster WGBH in Boston, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and New York University. All four institutions will work together to plan standards, procedures and facilities which will lead to creating a long-term preservation archive for public television programming produced in digital formats.

PBS’ programs such as “Great Performances,” “NOVA,” “Nature” and “Frontline” will all be archived as digital files in the future and stored on servers that will be available to the 349 PBS member stations across the country via an on-demand service.

The “Preserving Digital Public Television” project will inventory the at-risk program materials held at each public television organization, establish criteria and procedures for creating the archive, research technology issues, and outline operating policies for a cooperative facility. The next stage will be to make such an archive operational.

The funds are being made available through the Library’s National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP). This is one of eight awards being made through the program, and the only one that is aimed at preserving any type of television programming.

Even though practices to preserve analog videotapes are well established, the Library of Congress acknowledges that procedures, standards and structures have not yet been created that can guarantee the long-term survival of television programs produced only in digital formats. Entirely new technical and operational systems have to be developed if digitally produced programs will remain available and accessible into the distant future. NDIIPP funds are earmarked specifically to support these preservation activities.

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Click here for the complete text of the “Plan for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program.”

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