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Executive Summary

On September 19-21, 2006, the WGBH Educational Foundation hosted a conference on “Open Content and Public Broadcasting.” With an initial grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and additional funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WGBH proposed the conference as a way to explore public broadcasting issues related to producing and distributing open access content across multiple platforms.

The conference grew out of the recognition that public broadcasting executives were interested in the Open Content movement, but were struggling to understand how it might both further public broadcasting’s public service mission and support efforts to pursue strategic business models and sustainable solutions. The Open Content conference was designed to bring together key stakeholders in the public broadcasting system, academics who promoted Open Content in higher education, industry leaders in new media and technology, experts in intellectual property rights, and leaders in philanthropy. Together they examined existing models and efforts that might guide public broadcasting’s entry into Open Content, possible barriers to adoption of Open Content models in public broadcasting, and opportunities to pursue.

This report looks at the events of the conference and the key points discussed. It summarizes the group’s conclusions and presents recommendations from the WGBH planners.

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