|Type||Broadcast television network|
|Availability||United States, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Philippines|
|Key people||Paula Kerger, President and CEO|
|Launch date||October 5, 1970|
|Former names||National Educational Television (1952-1970)|
|Picture format||480i (SD)
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American non-profit public broadcasting television service with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. However, its operations are largely funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its headquarters are in Crystal City, Virginia.
PBS is the most prominent provider of programming to U.S. public television stations, distributing series such as The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Masterpiece, and Frontline. Since the mid-2000s, Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as America's most trusted national institution. However, PBS is not responsible for all programming carried on public TV stations; in fact, stations usually receive a large portion of their content (including most pledge drive specials) from third-party sources, such as American Public Television, NETA, and independent producers. This distinction is a frequent source of viewer confusion.
PBS was founded on October 5, 1970, at which time it took over many of the functions of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET), which later merged with station WNDT Newark, New Jersey to form WNET. In 1973, it merged with Educational Television Stations.
Unlike the model of America's commercial television networks, in which affiliates give up portions of their local advertising airtime in exchange for network programming, PBS member stations pay substantial fees for the shows acquired and distributed by the national organization.
This relationship means that PBS member stations have greater latitude in local scheduling than their commercial counterparts. Scheduling of PBS-distributed series may vary greatly from market to market. This can be a source of tension as stations seek to preserve their localism and PBS strives to market a consistent national line-up. However, PBS has a policy of "common carriage" requiring most stations to clear the national prime time programs on a common schedule, so that they can be more effectively marketed on a national basis.
Unlike its radio counterpart, National Public Radio, PBS has no central program production arm or news department. All of the programming carried by PBS, whether news, documentary, or entertainment, is created by (or in most cases produced under contract with) other parties, such as individual member stations. WGBH in Boston is one of the largest producers of educational programming. News programs are produced by WETA-TV in Washington, D.C., WNET in New York and WPBT in Miami. The Charlie Rose interview show, Secrets of the Dead, NOW on PBS, Nature, Cyberchase, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer come from or through WNET in New York. Once a program is offered to and accepted by PBS for distribution, PBS (and not the member station that supplied the program) retains exclusive rights for rebroadcasts during the period for which such rights were granted; the suppliers do maintain the right to sell the program in non-broadcast media such as DVDs, books, and sometimes PBS licensed merchandise (but sometimes grant such ancillary rights as well to PBS).
PBS stations are commonly operated by non-profit organizations, state agencies, local authorities (e.g., municipal boards of education), or universities in their community of license. In some states, PBS stations throughout the entire state may be organized into a single regional "subnetwork" (e.g., Alabama Public Television). Unlike public broadcasters in most other countries, PBS does not own any of the stations that broadcast its programming. (i.e., there are no PBS O&Os anywhere in the country) This is partly due to the origins of the PBS stations themselves, and partly due to historical license issues.
In the modern broadcast marketplace, this organizational structure is considered outmoded by some media critics. A common restructuring proposal is to reorganize the network so that each state would have one PBS affiliate which would broadcast state-wide. However, this proposal is controversial, as it would reduce local community input into PBS programming, especially considering how PBS stations are significantly more community-oriented, according to the argument, than their commercial counterparts.
In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates. The study showed that PBS was ranked as the 11th "most popular charity/non-profit in America from over 100 charities researched with 38.2% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing Love and Like A Lot for PBS.
On programs where viewers of PBS contributed to the production costs, the phrase "Viewers Like You" is used to indicate PBS's gratitude to the contributors. The phrase appears in the list of underwriters at the start and end of all PBS programs with viewer contributions. The phrase was coined on October 2, 1989. Previously, donations by viewers of PBS members were recognized as contributions from "this station and other public television stations" or "public television stations".
From 1989 to 1999, the underwriting announcement, accompanied by a slide with either "Public Television Viewers" or "Viewers Like You", was similar to "This program was made possible by the (annual) financial support of (PBS) Viewers Like You". The "Viewers Like You" statement was usually, but not necessarily always, the last part of this announcement, usually preceded by a reference to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ("a private corporation funded by the American people") and to one or more other foundations or corporate sponsors. Starting November 1, 1999, the PBS underwriting guidelines required all announcements to say "This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from Viewers Like You. Thank You!"
Some programs have chosen their own announcements: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: "The people who give the money to make Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are the people of this and other public television stations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Sears-Roebuck Foundation"; Sesame Street (1991–1998): "Funding for this program is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting... and by public television stations and their contributors." Some programs, such as Learn to Read, and Dragon Tales do not get funding from the stations or "Viewers Like You", only receiving funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and/or other donors.
In July 2009, flagship PBS station WQED in Pittsburgh announced plans to move the "Viewers Like You" credit to the front of the donor list, in order to give home viewers more recognition. The following month, PBS announced similar plans nationally. The move is being done because both the national PBS system and PBS member stations discovered that having "Viewers Like You" at the end of the donor list had the unintended consequence of leaving viewers feeling left out, despite the fact that viewers were the top contributor to PBS programming.
PBS Kids has also imported British children's series (for example, Tots TV, Teletubbies, Boohbah, and Thomas the Tank Engine and Animalia) as well as children's shows from Canada (i.e., The Big Comfy Couch, Theodore Tugboat, Wimzie's House and Polka Dot Door). On June 4, 2007, their first imported Australian children's TV series debuted on PBS – Raggs. Some of the programs subsequently moved to commercial television (for example, Ghostwriter, and The Magic School Bus).
However, PBS is not the only distributor of public television programming to the member stations. Other distributors have emerged from the roots of the old companies that had loosely held regional public television stations in the 1960s. Boston-based American Public Television (former names include Eastern Educational Network and American Program Service) is second only to PBS for distributing programs to U.S. non-commercial stations. Another distributor is NETA (formerly SECA), whose properties have included The Shapies and Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art. In addition, the member stations themselves also produce a variety of local shows, some of which subsequently receive national distribution through PBS or the other distributors.
PBS stations are known for rebroadcasting British television costume dramas and comedies (acquired from the BBC and other sources); consequently, it has been joked that PBS means "Primarily British Series". However, a significant amount of sharing takes place. The BBC and other media outlets in the region such as Channel 4 often cooperate with PBS stations, producing material that is shown on both sides of the Atlantic. Less frequently, Canadian, Australian, and other international programming appears on PBS stations (such as The Red Green Show, currently distributed by syndicator Executive Program Services); the public broadcasting syndicators are more likely to offer this programming to the U.S. public stations. It also uses the new slogan "On" then the station name. PBS is also known for re-broadcasting British science fiction and comedy programs such as Doctor Who and Red Dwarf, and Monty Python's Flying Circus and The Benny Hill Show.
Stations and/or networks that have produced or presented PBS-distributed programming include:
PBS has been the subject of some controversy.
Historically, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has received 15% to 20% of its annual operating revenue from Federal sources and 25% to 29% from State and local taxes. This has caused ongoing controversy and debate since the CPB was created on November 7, 1967 when U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
PBS was founded to provide diversity in programming at a time when all television was broadcast over the public airwaves by only 3 privately-owned national networks (as opposed to today's private cable or satellite delivery services with a multitude of programming sources). There is debate as to whether or not the PBS system has outlived its public necessity. Public television proponents maintain that the original mandate to provide universal access, particularly to rural viewers and those who cannot afford to pay for the private television services, remains vital. In addition, they argue that PBS provides some types of critical programming which would not be shown at all on the commercial networks and channels, including extensive educational children's programming, scientific exposition, in-depth documentaries and investigative journalism.
Since 53% to 60% of public television's revenues come from private membership donations and grants, most stations solicit individual donations by methods including pledge drives or telethons which can disrupt regularly scheduled programming. Some viewers find this a source of annoyance since normal programming is often replaced with specials aimed at a wider audience to solicit new members and donations. This has been parodied many times on other television shows such as The Simpsons (see Missionary: Impossible).
|PBS YOU||began 1998; ended January, 2006|
|PBS KIDS||began September 15, 1993|
|PBS KIDS Sprout||began May 9, 2005|
|PBS World||began in 2006; nationwide launch August 15, 2007|
|PBS-HD||HDTV feed to member stations|
|PBS Satellite Service||24-hour alternate network that provides a mixed variety of programming selected from PBS's regular network service, as well as for carriage on packaged satellite providers|
|Create||began in 2007 has shows on painting, cooking, traveling, and home improvement.|
PBS has also spun-off a number of TV networks, often in partnership with other media companies: PBS YOU (ended January 2006, and largely succeeded by American Public Television's Create), PBS KIDS (ended October 1, 2005), PBS KIDS Sprout, PBS World (commenced August 15, 2007), and PBS-DT2 (a feed of HDTV and letterboxed programming for digitally equipped member stations), along with packages of PBS programs that are similar to local stations' programming, the PBS Satellite Service feeds. PBS Kids Go! was promised for October 2006, but PBS announced in July that they would not be going forward with it as an independent network feed (as opposed to the pre-existing two-hour week daily block on PBS).
Some or all are available on many digital cable systems, on free-to-air TV via communications satellites, as well as via direct broadcast satellite. With the transition to terrestrial digital television broadcasts, many are also often now available as "multiplexed" channels on some local stations' standard-definition digital signals, while DT2 is found among the HD signals. PBS Kids announced that they will have an early-morning Miss Lori and Hooper block with four PBS Kids shows usually around 08:00. With the absence of advertising, network identification on these PBS networks were limited to utilization at the end of the program, which includes the standard series of bumpers from the "Be More" campaign.
While various digital subchannels are operated on a regional or statewide basis, these are the creation of individual PBS member stations or groups of stations. While not operated or controlled by the national PBS organization, these extra channels typically rebroadcast portions of the programming from the main PBS service in addition to local and regional public-affairs coverage and are carried as subchannels of existing PBS stations.
|Florida Channel||WFSU-TV||Florida statewide|
|Florida Knowledge Network||Florida Department of Education||Florida statewide|
|Kentucky Educational Television||Various||Kentucky statewide, neighboring states|
|Minnesota Channel||Twin Cities Public TV||Minnesota, portions of North Dakota|
|ThinkBright TV||WNED-TV||New York statewide, except New York City|
|OETA OKLA||Oklahoma Educational Television Authority||Oklahoma statewide|
|Wisconsin Channel||WHA-TV||Wisconsin Public Television|
|GPB Knowledge, GPB Kids||Georgia Public Broadcasting||nearly all of Georgia|
|UNC-NC, UNC-KD, UNC-ED, UNC-EX (future)||UNC-TV||nearly all of North Carolina|
|South Carolina Channel, ETV World||ETV South Carolina||nearly all of South Carolina|
|The Ohio Channel||WVIZ||The state of Ohio|
Also carried on some PBS stations are Create (American Public Television, how-to programming), MHz Worldview (Commonwealth Public Broadcasting, international news) and V-me (WNET, Spanish language educational). None of these services form part of the main PBS network.
Founded in 1993, PBS Kids is the brand for children's programming aired by PBS in the United States. The PBS Kids network, which was established in 1988 and ran for seven years, was largely funded by DirecTV. The channel ceased operation on October 1, 2005, in favor of a new joint commercial venture, PBS KIDS Sprout.
The network has shown some sporting events in its history.
During the 1970s and 1980s PBS was the leading American tennis broadcaster. Bud Collins and Donald Dell were PBS announcers. PBS was the first American network to regularly broadcast tennis tournaments. PBS also broadcast "Tennis for the Future", hosted by Vic Braden.
In 1982, PBS and ESPN provided the first thorough American television coverage of the FIFA World Cup. PBS aired same day highlights of the top game of the day. Toby Charles was PBS' play by play announcer.
From 1984 to 1987, PBS broadcast Ivy League football. Dick Galiette and Upton Bell called games for the first season and Marty Glickman and Bob Casciola called the games in 1985. In 1986, PBS increased its coverage and had two announcing teams, Brian Dowling and Sean McDonough, who had been the sideline reporter for the prior two seasons were the play by play announcers and Bob Casciola and Len Simonian were the color analysts. For the final season McDonough and Jack Corrigan were the game announcers and Mike Madden was the sideline reporter.
Many state public broadcasting stations, such as Georgia Public Broadcasting, Maine Public Broadcasting Network, and Nebraska Educational Television, broadcast high school sports championships, and college sports games not seen on commercial TV (such as baseball, gymnastics, tennis, etc.).