Broader Definition of Television

by Kaleigh Platt

Public Television
The world of Public Television has experienced some terrific recognition in the past couple of months from the rest of the television world.  Beginning back in mid January, PBS’ hit show ‘Downtown Abbey’ received a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.  This series, in its second season, premiered with an average of 4.2 million viewers, doubling the average PBS primetime rating, according to Nielsen Company information.  In late January, the Producers Guild honored three PBS shows.  ‘Masterpiece,’ ‘American Masters,’ and ‘Sesame Street’ each won the award in their respective categories.  Masterpiece’s ‘Downtown Abbey’ David L. Wolper won Producer of the Year in Long-Form Television; Susan Lacy and Julie Sacks were named Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television for their efforts on ‘American Masters’ and ‘Sesame Street’ won the Children’s Programs award, one of four new categories added this year.  PBS’ children’s programs continued to be recognized this Spring when PBS Kids and its programming won five Kidscreen Award in early February.  Included in these awards, PBS Kids was named the Channel of the Year and was also recognized as Best Integrated Promotion for its launch of ‘The Cat in the Hat Knows All About That!’ a teaching initiative. Additionally, in late January PBS’ Independent Lens, which creates Independent Documentary Films,  had four films receive documentary awards at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  “The House I Live In” received the Grand Jury Prize.  The winning films are confirmed for future broadcasts on public television.

February saw even more awards rolling in for PBS and its programs.  ‘Page Eight’ won the American Society of Cinematography Award for Television Move/Miniseries.  Martin Ruhe is the celebrated cinematographer.  Just a short time later in mid February, five PBS programs were awarded Writers Guilds Awards.  PBS’ iconic ‘Frontline’ series won a total of four awards itself and ‘Better This World’ took home the award for Documentary Screenplay.  In all, PBS programming was nominated for 18 awards.  At the end of the month, these two programs also were winners of the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.   Each had a documentary receive an award.  Continuing with award season, PBS also received 13 International Wildlife Film Festival Awards.  The films will be honored in early May in Montana.  ‘Nature’ had two episodes recognized, “Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey” and “My Life As a Turkey” each received four awards, including “Best of Festival,” awarded to “Broken Tail.”  Additionally, ‘Bones of Turkana’ received three awards.  On April 4, the Annual Peabody Awards announced that PBS was honored with seven wins, more than any other organization.  However, other public media groups also won an additional six awards.  As a whole, public media received more than a third of the total awards.  On April 12, PBS Kids won eight Parents’ Choice Television Awards.  ‘Electric Company,’ “Sid the Science Kid,’ ‘Design Squad,’ ‘Sesame Street,’ and Sesame’s ‘Growing Hope Against Hunger’ special were awarded Gold Awards.

In effort to continue being relevant in the digital age, PBS has taken initiative to be present on iPhones and iPads with custom apps.  In early February, PBS announced they would be celebrating the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss, on-air, online and on mobile.  Through the PBS Kids Video app for iPad, iPhone and iTouch, kids could watch featured episodes of ‘The Cat in the Hat-a-Thon.’  This was an extremely anticipated multi-media event.  Later, in mid February, an exclusive premier of the first hour of ‘American Experience, Clinton’ aired on the free PBS apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, a week before its broadcast on Presidents’ Day.
A huge nationwide event occurred in early March for PBS.  In congruent efforts, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting launched educational apps the low-income areas.  Their mission is to help bridge the ‘app gap’ that exists between classes that can afford new technologies such as computers, smartphones and tablets.  The learning apps will be downloaded onto devices underserved families will have access to in local Head Start centers.  This will increase access to educational mobile content for children in these low-income families.
On March 29, the first app of the PBS Kids Go! Series was announced by PBS and WGBH.  The app, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and produced by WGBH, encourages nutritious snaking for young kids.  Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President for Children’s Media of PBS, commented “PBS is committed to helping kids learn and grow through healthy food choices.”  PBS was recognized for its efforts on the Internet in early April.  The Webby Awards honor excellence on the internet and are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.  PBS and its producers were nominated for nine awards and another ten were selected as nominees.  The winners were announced May 1, 2012.  ‘Sesame Street’ received two awards for and ‘Religion & Ethics Newsweekly’ received an award for  In further attempt to bring together education and technology, PBS’ Teacherline, has updated two of its online courses for educators.  It offers professional development for K-12 educators and implementing the role of technology in the class room.  The courses offer digital learning strategies and and tools that can be immediately applied in the class room, to increase student achievement.

PBS also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic with three new programs scheduled for early April.  Each program is intended to provide a unique insight and point of view into the disaster.  They range from historic details, to dramas, to personal reflections and the science of it all.  PBS believes this to be an event to be able to dive deeper into the untold stories and challenges that arose.  Americans and the rest of the world together can have another chance to explore the sunken memories and shed new light on the tale.

Public Television has had significant recognition since the beginning of the year.  Their many awards have ranged from documentaries to miniseries to children’s programming, from a variety of well-respected sources from Golden Globes to the Sundance Film Festival.  It has gained further respect from the broadcast television industry.  Furthermore,  it is a leader in innovative education and bringing together communities, families and teachers for the betterment of education.  All of these events and actions supports its mission to provide the public with quality television and content that educates, informs and inspires.