Public broadcasting started as early as 1932 in England when the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) took control of television. The BBC had originally been founded as a radio broadcaster in 1922 under English engineer John Charles Reith (1889–1971). Reith headed the company for sixteen years and turned it into one of Britain's more revered institutions, supported entirely by the public with license fees.
In the United States public broadcasting was started on November 7, 1967, when the Public Broadcasting Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908–1973). He created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to broaden the scope of noncommercial radio and television beyond its educational role. Due to his efforts and the support of federal grants, corporate and foundation donations, and private contributions, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) soon rivaled the Big Three networks (NBC, CBS, and ABC) for viewers.
Further Information: Bittner, J. R. Broadcasting and Telecommunication: An Introduction. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1985.