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National Educational Television

National Educational Television ("NET") was an educational television network in the USA from 1952 until 1969. It was the predecessor of PBS.

NET was founded in 1952 by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Originaly it was a limited service for exchanging and distributing educational programs produced by local television stations to other stations. In 1954 it expanded its goals, becoming a network and airing 5 hours of programing a day. Early on many of the stations were not linked by coaxial cable, and much of the programing was shipped on film. The programing was noted for treating subjects in depth, including hour long interviews with people of literary and historical importance. The programing was also noted for being dry and accademic, with little consideration given to entertainment value, in marked contrast to commercial television. Many of the shows were designed as adult education, and NET was nicknamed "The University of the Air".

In 1958 National Educational Television headquarters was moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to New York City, and more agressive programing was undertaken to secure for NET the role of the USA's fourth television network (with CBS, NBC, and ABC). At this time NET also started importing programing from the BBC.

The partially government funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting (founded in 1967) initially collaborated with NET, but then decided to start a new broadcast entity. This new network became the Public Broadcasting System in 1969, when it took over most of NET's subsidiaries and functions. NET disbanded a short time later.

The children's educational programs Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which first aired on NET, continue to be broadcast on PBS today.

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