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Public Broadcasting Service
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Public Broadcasting Service

Note: Public Broadcasting Services is a broadcaster in Malta. It is unrelated to the U.S. broadcaster of this article.

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non-profit public broadcasting television service with nearly 350 member TV stations in the United States. PBS headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia. PBS was founded in 1969, at which time it took over many of the functions of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET). PBS commenced broadcasting in October 1970.

Table of contents
1 Introduction
2 Sources of funding
3 Programming
4 Other shows
5 Criticisms
6 New networks
7 See also
8 External link


PBS is not a broadcast network in the traditional sense. Unlike the commercial television broadcast model, 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 wildly 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 lineup.

List of PBS affiliates

Sources of funding

In addition to member fees, PBS receives federal government money through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). PBS-distributed programs may be funded in part by corporate sponsors and non-profit groups such as the Annenberg Foundation.

The largest source of revenue for U.S. public television stations comes from donations by individual viewers. Stations also receive federal dollars through CPB grants. Depending upon their location and licensee, local stations may also be funded in part by state governments, colleges and universities. They can sell small portions of their airtime in the form of underwriting, which differs from traditional advertising in terms of restrictions on language and product usage.


PBS' evening schedule emphasizes fine arts (Great Performances), drama (Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre), science (Nova and Scientific American Frontiers), public affairs (Frontline) and independent films (P.O.V. and Independent Lens).

PBS has distributed a number of highly regarded children's shows such as Sesame Street, "Zoom", The Letter People, Barney and Friends, Shining Time Station and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Popular animated series have included Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur, Liberty's Kids and The Magic School Bus. The service has also imported British kids' series including Teletubbies and Boohbah.

Member stations do not rely solely on PBS for their programming. Another major U.S. distributor is American Public Television (APT). In addition, stations acquire syndicated programming such as The McLaughlin Group. They also produce a variety of local shows, many of which subsequently receive national distribution through PBS or APT.

They are known for rebroadcasting British television dramas and comedies (acquired from the BBC and other sources), and much of the exposure of audiences in the United States to British television (particularly comedies) comes through PBS to the point where 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.

Other shows


PBS has been the subject of some controversy.

New networks

PBS has also begun at least two new
TV networks: PBSYou and PBS Kids. Both are available on many digital cable systems, as well as DirecTV via satellite. It is possible now that with the transition to terrestrial digital television broadcasts, both may be available as alternate channels on some local stations in the near future.

See also

External link