The special has been broadcast on CBS each year since its debut in 1978.
“The Kennedy Center Honors continues to be one of the most prestigious broadcasts on all of television, and we are honored to be its host,” said Leslie Moonves, president and chief executive officer of CBS Corporation in a statement. “It is a unique event that reinforces our country's collective appreciation for the performing arts with tremendous class, style and, yes, entertainment. We are proud to join forces with the Kennedy Center and our friends in Washington to continue presenting this annual event.”
“We are pleased to renew this commitment with CBS," added Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein. “Every year, the broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors brings millions of arts lovers into the nation’s center for the performing arts. We value and respect the strong commitment of Leslie Moonves and CBS to the performing arts and look forward to honoring the best of the arts in America.”
The Kennedy Center Honorees, according to a press statement, are "recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts — whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television — and are selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines."
A gala celebration at the Kennedy Center, which pays tribute to the honorees and features dozens of performing artists, is recorded and subsequently broadcast on CBS. George Stevens Jr. co-created the Kennedy Center Honors in 1978 with Nick Vanoff, and has produced and co-written the show for 34 years. Michael Stevens has produced and co-written the show for the past five years.