PBS And Member Stations Mark 10 Years As America’s Most Trusted Institution

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An annual national survey conducted over the last 10 years has consistently confirmed that PBS and its member stations are ranked first in trust among nationally known institutions and are considered an “excellent” use of tax dollars by the American public.

The yearly study has also called PBS the most fair network for news and public affairs 10 consecutive times. In the most current round of research, PBS KIDS was named the most educational TV/media brand, the safest destination for children to watch television or visit online, and the top provider of content that helps children learn reading, math and essential skills. In each question, PBS KIDS significantly outscored cable and commercial broadcast television.

The research was conducted in January 2013 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 deeply grateful that for a full decade the people of our country have stated that PBS has earned their trust and delivered an excellent value in return on their investment,” said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. “The consistent results we find in this national research confirm that the American public see PBS and our member stations staying true to our mission – providing trusted content that can’t be found elsewhere, and treating our audience as citizens, not simply consumers.”

PBS Ranks #1 in Public Trust – Nearly Twice the Level of Trust Than Courts of Law

More than 4 in 5 people trust PBS (85% “trust a great deal” or “trust somewhat”). The 2013 study marks the 10th 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 nearly twice the level of trust in PBS (46% “trust a great deal”) over the nearest institution, courts of law (27% “trust a great deal”).

PBS Considered Top Use of Tax Dollars

- Only military defense outranked PBS as the best value for the American tax dollar.
Three-quarters (75%) of those polled called PBS an “excellent” (22%) or “good” (52%) use of their tax dollars. Military defense was described as “excellent” or “good” by 77% (27% “excellent” or 50% “good”).

- Nearly 3 in 4 participants (76%) believe federal funding for PBS is money well spent.

PBS Named the Most Fair Network

More than 4 in 10 respondents (43%) called PBS’ news coverage, investigations and discussions of issues “mostly fair” (when asked to choose among “liberal,” “mostly fair” and “conservative”). PBS outscored all other sources in the “mostly fair” category, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC. 

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 12%.

- Eighty-six percent (86%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS “helps children improve their reading and math skills.” Cable and commercial broadcast television received this rating from 51% and 43% of respondents, respectively.

- Eighty-one percent (81%) 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 48% and 44% of participants, respectively.

- Eighty-eight percent (88%) 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 cable and commercial broadcast television, respectively.

- More than 3 in 4 respondents (78%) 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 41% and 37% of the sample, respectively.

- Eighty-one percent (81%) agreed “strongly or somewhat” that PBS is “the innovator” in children’s educational media. Forty-seven percent (47%) and 40% 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 http://to.pbs.org/most-trusted-2013.

Survey Methodology

The 2013 Public Opinion Poll was conducted by phone within the United States by ORC International’s DualFrame CARAVAN on behalf of PBS from January 10-14, 2013 among 1,014 adults ages 18 and older. The sample included 512 men and 502 women. The DualFrame CARAVAN is a nationally representative phone survey of adults conducted on both landlines and cell phones.

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