PBS gets CPB funding for election coverage


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes taxpayer funds authorized by Congress, announced a grant for “PBS NewsHour” to support NewsHour Open Election 2012. The initiative is designed to enhance the program’s election coverage and better inform diverse audiences about important election issues.

Through a $420,000 grant from CPB, NewsHour Open Election 2012 is utilizing crowd-sourcing technologies developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) and Mozilla to enable citizen volunteers to translate and caption 2012 election coverage into dozens of languages, as well as for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. These technologies will make election news, speeches and debates more accessible for diverse audiences, helping to increase their understanding of, and engagement in, the political process.

“Americans across the country depend on public media to provide trusted information and news, which is especially important during an election year,” said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of CPB. “Guided by our strategic platform, known as the Three D’s – digital, diversity and dialogue – we are investing in new technologies that will expand the reach of public media journalism and connect our content to all Americans so they may become more engaged in our civil society.”

PBS NewsHour will launch the translation and captioning project during President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address on January 24th.

Two prior tests of the captioning technology proved highly successful. The first was a translation of the 2011 State of the Union Address, which was fully converted via open-sourced captions into seven languages and partially translated into 16 more. The second was a translation of events following the death of Osama bin Laden, which was interpreted in 15 languages.

RBR-TVBR observation: Whether there should be taxpayer funding of public broadcasting will certainly be an issue in this year’s election, if a minor one. It was just a week ago that we reported on one station’s efforts to justify public funding at both the state and national level. Read it here.