CPB, PBS to Build Next Generation Interconnection System

Public investment in new technology will create state-of-the-art programming distribution backbone that will cut costs and improve efficiency

Continuing the organizations' long history of cooperation and partnership, Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of PBS, signed an agreement that formally determines the design, implementation and management of the Next Generation Interconnection System (NGIS). This major technology project will replace and significantly upgrade the current infrastructure that enables PBS, regional distributors and other entities to distribute programming for broadcast by public television stations.

Replacing the current satellite-based backbone of public television, which depends upon satellite leases due to expire in October 2006, the NGIS uses a hybrid satellite/fiber architecture designed by PBS Technology and Operations that takes advantage of advanced file transfer technologies, permitting stations to automate the content they receive from PBS, allowing greater programming flexibility and freeing scarce local resources to be redirected towards enhanced local services. These technologies and techniques will also generate efficiencies at PBS that will reduce operating costs over time. The NGIS will be fully operational by the end of 2006.

"I am delighted that CPB and PBS have reached this agreement." Ms. Harrison said. "Owing to the foresight and strong support of the CPB board of directors, it represents the next chapter in our 25-year history of working together to ensure that public television stations and viewers can count on a high-quality, reliable distribution system. With the possibilities created by new technology, this is a very exciting step forward for public broadcasting."

"The collaborative work of the PBS and CPB Technology and Operations staff has resulted in an innovative, forward-focused interconnection system that secures the unique benefits of public television's national/local structure of services," said Ms. Mitchell. "This new agreement provides in improved efficiency, lower costs, and greater functionality. We are grateful to CPB for partnering with us and together, we look forward to continuing to serve this country's public broadcasting stations in ways that strengthen their local services."

Under the Public Broadcasting Act, CPB provides funding the interconnection systems required by public television and public radio. Historically, Congress has provided special appropriations to defray those costs. To date, Congress has provided $50 million of the anticipated $120 million cost of NGIS, and the Senate appropriations committee has recommended making an additional $40 million available in FY2006.