Polls: PBS Most Trusted News Source

Two recent public surveys find PBS has the most trusted news and public affairs programming and is also considered the most educational brand for children.

New national polls have found that the American people find PBS the most trusted and unbiased institution among nationally known organizations; the most trusted source of news and public affairs among broadcast and cable sources; and  the most educational media brand for children ages 2-8.

The research was commissionted by PBS and conducted in December 2009 and January 2010 by the nonpartisan, international research company GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media. 

“In a media world where profits drive decisions, public media stands alone in its singular focus on the American public and not the bottom line,” said Paula Kerger, PBS president. “PBS does more to serve the needs of our modern democracy with trusted, independent journalism and does more to help children succeed than any other media enterprise. Today’s citizens — whether they watch on-air, online, on mobile devices or in the classroom — understand this fundamental difference that distinguishes PBS.”  

This is the seventh consecutive year the public has named PBS the nation’s most-trusted institution. In the 2010 poll, 45 percent of respondents said they trust PBS more than any other nationally known organization. PBS ranked at the top in public trust among every age group, ethnicity, income and education level measured. Second in trust are “courts of law,” which are trusted a great deal by 26%. PBS ranks highest in importance among 58% of respondents when compared to commercial broadcast (43%) and cable channels (40%).  

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Additional highlights of the two national surveys include:

No. 1 for News and Public Affairs


PBS remains the network with the most trusted news and public affairs programs, with 40% trusting its programs a “great deal.” Fox News Channel was second with 29% and CNN was third at 27%.

In an effort to measure bias, the survey concluded that 40% of Americans rated the news coverage, investigations and discussions of major issues on PBS programs as “mostly fair” (when asked to choose among “liberal,” “mostly fair” and “conservative”). NBC and ABC tied for second by 33% of the respondents, CNN (31%), NPR (29%), Fox News Channel (25%) and MSNBC (24%).

More than 75 percent of the public believes PBS addresses key news, public affairs and social issues “very/moderately” well, including providing access to arts and culture (88%); promoting understanding of science and technology (82%); providing access to a variety of viewpoints (78%); informing people about health issues (77%); and informing people about important political and social issues (76%).

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No. 1 in Children’s Media

PBS KIDS earned the top ranking as the most educational media brand for children, receiving 21% of the top ratings from respondents. National Geographic Kids was second with 13% of respondents and Nick Jr. received 5%.

PBS KIDS remains the most essential source of children’s programming, with 67%  of respondents stating that PBS’s children’s service is “very important,” compared to 49% for cable and 44% of commercial broadcast television. Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe it is “very important” for PBS to provide children’s programming.

PBS annually commissions this research to measure the organization’s performance and value as judged by its most important stakeholder — the American public. Full results are available here. 


Comments (3)

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Christina Perez says:

February 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Memo to Ms. Kerger: So why doesn’t PBS offer the American public a free, OTA all-news TV network? This is a glaring deficiency in your mission. America has no non-commercial all-news network. There must be a reason for PBS passing on the concept. What is it? You can answer here.

Mark Spencer says:

February 18, 2010 at 4:26 pm

I won’t speak for Ms. Kerger, but I think the reason there might not be a “free, OTA all-news TV network” might have something to do with the cost of such a thing. From what I understand, PBS struggles to find funding for the NewsHour….how would they pay for the other 23 hours in a day?

Trudy Handel says:

February 20, 2010 at 12:21 am

I’ve very often wished for a “PBS News” channel, but I have to imagine the costs of such a service would be huge. It’s really too bad; I’d love a service like that.

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