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GBH Awarded $16 Million to Digitize Radio, TV Broadcasts

The grant supports the American Archive of Public Broadcasting's preservation efforts

The Mellon Foundation has just awarded Boston public media producer GBH $16 million. This money will support the American Archive of Public Broadcasting’s mission to digitize and preserve historic public radio and television programs from across the U.S.

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AAPB is a collaboration between GBH and the Library of Congress. According to a GBH press release, this grant will support the digitization of up to 150,000 items, which in turn will double the current size of the archive collection. The $16 million will also support other critical work to preserve and share at-risk content currently residing on deteriorating media formats.

“This vast collection of public media programs is American history as seen through local, regional and national lenses, but we are in a race against time to preserve these at-risk treasures now on fragile and obsolete formats,” said GBH President and CEO Susan Goldberg.

The AAPB archive currently contains nearly 100,000 items — which are available online for the public to stream for free — dating back more than 70 years, with thousands more available for research access. A few examples of material in the AAPB include full episodes of WNET’s Black Journal, unedited interviews recorded for Eyes on the Prize, the kid-driven ‘70s series ZOOM and the entire “gavel-to-gavel” coverage of the Watergate Hearings.

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The grant to GBH builds on previous support from the Mellon Foundation.

Karen Cariani, GBH project director for the AAPB, said, “With this funding, the AAPB will be able to better support its contributing stations as well as the growing number of users who rely on our digital archive for education, journalism, scholarship and more.”

The AAPB was initiated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a series of pilot projects before granting stewardship to the Library of Congress and GBH in 2013.