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Nationwide research confirms that PBS and member stations are America’s most trusted institution

Today WITF President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko announced that during a time of significant increase in broadcast audience numbers and growing reach on digital platforms

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Tom Downing / WITF

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Today WITF President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko announced that during a time of significant increase in broadcast audience numbers and growing reach on digital platforms, PBS and its member stations were again named #1 in trust among nationally known institutions, and called an “excellent” use of tax dollars by the American public in a national poll for the 11th year in a row. This same survey found that the American public considers PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand, the safest place for children to watch television, the safest online media destination, as well as the top provider of content that helps children learn reading, math and essential skills. PBS KIDS significantly outscored cable and commercial broadcast television in each one of these categories.
The research was conducted in January 2014 by the independent, non-partisan research firm ORC International. Each year, PBS commissions research to measure its performance and value as judged by its most important stakeholder – the American public.

“I am so grateful to the people of our country for their consistent belief in PBS, our stations and the work we do each day,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “PBS was created to provide the American public with content that inspires lifelong learning, community building and curiosity about the world we share. By boldly adhering to our mission, we have increased our audience both on-air and through a growing number of digital platforms. While I’m proud of our growing broadcast and digital audiences, this is valuable only if we are connecting viewers with content that makes an impact. The results of this study show that we are on the right track.”

PBS Ranks #1 in Public Trust – Significantly Higher Level of Trust Than Courts of Law


Four in 5 people trust PBS (80% “trust a great deal” or “trust somewhat”). The 2014 study marks the 11th time in a row that PBS was called the nation’s most-trusted institution among a consideration set that includes courts of law, newspapers, and others. The study found that respondents had a significantly higher level of trust in PBS (42% “trust a great deal”) over the nearest institution, courts of law (25% “trust a great deal”).

PBS Considered Top Use of Tax Dollars and “Money Well Spent”


• Only military defense outranked PBS as the best value for the American tax dollar. More than 7 in 10 (71%) of those polled called PBS an “excellent” (19%) or “good” (52%) use of their tax dollars. Military defense was described as “excellent” or “good” by 73% (23% “excellent” or 50% “good”).
• More than 3 in 4 participants (77%) believe federal funding for PBS is money well spent.

PBS KIDS Called #1 Educational TV/Media Brand, Top Builder of Critical Skills, and Safest  On-Air and Online Destination


• More than 4 in 10 respondents (44%) named PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand, significantly outscoring the second most highly rated brand, Disney, which was considered most educational by 16%.
• Eighty-five percent (85%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “helps children improve their reading and math skills.” Cable and commercial broadcast television received this rating from 47% and 42% of respondents, respectively.
• Eighty percent (80%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that “PBS helps prepare children for success in school and life.” This statement was equated with cable television and commercial broadcast television by 47% and 33% of participants, respectively.
• Eighty-seven percent (87%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to watch television.” Fifty-one percent (51%) and 49% of respondents agreed with this statement regarding commercial broadcast and cable television, respectively.
• More than 3 in 4 respondents (76%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to visit online,” while this statement was attributed to cable television and commercial broadcasters by only 37% and 40% of the sample, respectively.
• Seventy-nine percent (79%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS is “the innovator” in children’s educational media. Forty-seven percent (44%) percent and 37% of participants also applied this statement to cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.
Public broadcasting is America’s largest classroom, its biggest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world, providing a place for all Americans to access new ideas and information to help every citizen build a brighter future.

Full results are available at

To learn more about how PBS and local member stations are trusted, valued and essential to communities across the country, visit

Survey Methodology

The 2014 Public Opinion Poll was conducted by phone, including landlines and cell-phone only homes, within the United States by ORC International’s CARAVAN on behalf of PBS from January 9-12, 2014 among 1,004 adults ages 18 and older. The sample included 502 men and 502 women. Survey results are weighted to be nationally representative of the U.S. adult population.

For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jan McNamara, PBS Corporate Communications, or 703-739-5028.

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