February 27, 1996 Library of Congress To Hold Public Hearings on Preservation of American Television and Video

Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced today the beginning of a major study by the Library of Congress on the state of television and video preservation in the United States. To ensure that a wide range of views and perspectives is incorporated into the study, Dr. Billington intends to consult with many interested organizations and individuals, solicit written submissions, and conduct three hearings.

The hearings will be held as follows:

March 6: 1 p.m.- 7 p.m. Hotel Sofitel Ma Maison, Opus Ballroom, 8555 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif.

March 19: 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Sheraton New York Hotel, New York Ballroom A, New York City

March 26: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Library of Congress Madison Building, Mumford Room, Washington, D.C.

In particular, the Library of Congress invites participation by archives and libraries, broadcast and production companies, local television stations, professional associations, film and television schools, funding organizations, federal and state agencies, museums, historians and other scholars, writers and researchers, manufacturers, and technical service vendors. The hearings are open to the public. Those wishing to testify should contact Steve Leggett at (202) 707-5912. Public comment is invited in writing by April 29 from anyone unable to attend the hearings.

One of the purposes of the study is to gather up-to-date information on the problems and issues relating to American television and video preservation. In the public and private sectors, holdings of television and video materials are estimated to exceed several hundred thousand recorded hours. Yet no comprehensive inventory exists, the core programs that are most important for the national audiovisual heritage have not been identified, and there is no nationwide coordinated plan for the orderly transfer of copies into public archives for preservation and educational use.

Videotape, the staple of television recording technology for the last 40 years, is at best a fragile record format, vulnerable to adverse storage conditions, abusive handling, and technological obsolescence. Yet videotape recordings, given their convenience over the years, contain some of the most important moving-image documents of the modern era. In addition to the role of videotape, the study will also examine films made primarily for television broadcast and the preservation of artistic works made for video display.

Additional information, including procedures for requesting to testify or submitting written statements, is available from Steve Leggett at (202) 707-5912; or from the coordinator of the study, William T. Murphy, (202) 707-5708. Written requests or submissions should be sent to their attention at Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-4690. (fax: (202) 707-2371).


PR 96-031
ISSN 0731-3527