Four years ago, Congress endorsed the development of an archive to ensure that multimedia content created with the support of public funds would be preserved for future generations of Americans. CPB is spending a portion of the funds that Congress appropriated for digital conversion to create the American Archive, which identifies, collects, digitizes, manages, preserves and, when needed, restores the entirety of public broadcasting’s at-risk collections of archival audio and moving-image content. During a two-year (2009–2010) pilot project commissioned by CPB and led by Oregon Public Broadcasting, 22 radio and television stations restored, catalogued and digitized 2,400 hours of programming dating back to 1948. In 2011, CPB’s Content Inventory Project (CIP) began locating, identifying and creating an inventory of public broadcasting materials nationwide. CIP established a comprehensive inventory process that laid out inventory parameters, policies and criteria for all public media content holders and providers. CPB awarded additional grants during 2012 to cover the costs of this process.
When the 122 participating stations complete their inventories, CPB anticipates the submission of 2.5 million digital records, including completed broadcast programs, program elements, photographs, scripts and other media. Participating stations will nominate specific assets for preservation, including both national programs and local content with lasting value to their communities. Notably, the majority of stations that have produced national content during the last five decades are participating in the inventory process. As of May 2013, CPB is near completion of a search for an appropriate home for the American Archive—an institution that will protect and find new uses for the wealth of content that public media has created on behalf of the American people.