Public Broadcasting Service

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<tr><td colspan="2" style="text-align: center; padding: 10px 0 10px 0;"></td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Type</th><td>Broadcasttelevision network</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Country</th><td>Image:Flag of the United States.svgUnited States</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Availability</th><td>United States and Canada</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Owner</th><td>Public Broadcasting Service</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Launch date</th><td>1969(founded)
October 5, 1970(network commences)</td></tr><tr><th style="text-align:right;">Website</th><td></td></tr>
Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non-profit public broadcasting television service with 349 member TV stations in the United States, with some member stations available by cable in Canada. While the term broadcast covers radio, PBS only covers TV; for radio the United States has National Public Radio, American Public Media and Public Radio International.

PBS was founded in 1969, at which time it took over many of the functions of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET). It commenced broadcasting itself on Monday, October 5, 1970. In 1973, it merged with Educational Television Stations.

PBS is a non-profit, private corporation which is owned collectively by its member stations. <ref>About PBS,, accessed November 25, 2006</ref> However, its operations are largely funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a separate entity funded by the U.S. federal government. Its headquarters are in Crystal City, Virginia.


[edit] Organization

Further information: List of PBS member stations

PBS is not a broadcast network in the sense in which that term is usually used in the United States, though it is more like U.S. broadcast networks than other public broadcasters that own their stations. Unlike the commercial television broadcast model of American networks such as NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox, 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 lineup. 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) 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. and WPBT in Miami, and Cyberchase, the Charlie Rose interview show and Nature come from WNET in New York. Once a program is distributed to PBS, the network (and not the member station that supplied it) retains all rights for rebroadcasts; the suppliers do maintain the right to sell the program in non-broadcast media such as DVDs, books, and licensed merchandise.

PBS stations are commonly operated by non-profit organizations or universities in their community of license. In some states, PBS stations throughout the entire state may be organized into a single regional "subnetwork" (ex. Alabama Public Television). Unlike Canada's CBC-SRC, PBS does not own any of the stations that broadcast its programming. 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 broadcast state-wide. However, this proposal is controversial, as it would reduce local community input into PBS programming, especially considering PBS stations are particularly more community-oriented than their commercial counterparts.

[edit] Programming

PBS's evening schedule emphasizes fine arts (Great Performances), drama (Mystery! and Masterpiece Theatre), science (Nova and Scientific American Frontiers), history (American Experience), public affairs (Frontline, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer) and independent films (P.O.V. and Independent Lens).

PBS (as PBS Kids) has distributed a number of highly regarded children's shows such as Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Villa Alegre, Zoom!, 3-2-1 Contact, Barney & Friends, Shining Time Station, Thomas & Friends, Ghostwriter, Reading Rainbow, Kratts' Creatures, 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. Some of these programs have since migrated to commercial television, including 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 dramas and comedies (acquired from the BBC and other sources) — these shows are generally seen on Saturday evenings, generally regarded as the least-watched evening of the week due to viewers doing outside activities such as going to a movie, a concert, or other functions; so much of the exposure (or lack thereof) of American audiences to British television (particularly comedies) comes through PBS 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. Also, though less frequently, Canadian and Australian, among 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.

Stations that produce a significant amount of PBS network programming include:

[edit] Partial list of programs

[edit] Programs originally aired on PBS

Some of these programs still air on channels with older prints, like George Mason University Television.

[edit] Criticism and controversy

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

PBS has been the subject of some controversy.

  • Federal funding cuts: PBS is subject to repeated attempts to reduce federal funding. On June 8, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that a key House committee had "approved a $115 million reduction in the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, that could force the elimination of some popular PBS and NPR programs." This would reduce the Corporation's budget by 23%, to $380 million, for 2007. A similar budget cut was attempted in 2005, but was defeated by intense lobbying from the PBS stations and opposition from the Democratic Party.
  • Outdated justifications: PBS was founded to provide diversity in programming at a time when all television was broadcast (as opposed to today's cable or satellite transmission methods) and most communities received only three or four signals. Today many households subscribe to cable TV or have satellite dishes that receive tens or hundreds of signals, including varied educational and children's programs.[1] But according to public television proponents, the service should be intended to provide universal access, particularly to poor and rural viewers. They also say that many cable and satellite productions are of lower quality, including children's programs.
  • Disruptive fundraising: Most stations solicit individual donations by methods including pledge drives or telethons which can disrupt regularly scheduled programming. Although many viewers find it useful to raise funds, others think this is a source of annoyance since they replace the normal programs with specials aimed at a wider audience<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>, while some find the commercial stations' ads even more annoying. This has been parodied many times on other television shows such as the Simpsons.

[edit] Political and ideological bias

  • The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 [2] required a "strict adherence to objectivity and balance in all programs or series of programs of a controversial nature." It also prohibited the federal government from interfering or controlling what is broadcast. This set up an obvious tension where the government that created the CPB would not be able to do anything about a perceived failure to meet its obligation for objectivity and balance without interfering in some way.
  • At a more basic and problematic level is how and who should determine what constitutes objectivity and balance when there are massive disagreements over what that would be. There seems to be no consensus or even attempts at forming a consensus to resolve this dilemma.
  • Some conservatives perceive it to have a liberal bias and criticize its tax-based revenue and have periodically but unsuccessfully attempted to discontinue funding of CPB. Although state and federal sources account for a minority percentage of public television funding, the system remains vulnerable to political pressure. Kenneth Tomlinson, former chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting who resigned amid controversy, in November 2004 in Baltimore, told PBS officials, "They should make sure their programming better reflected the Republican mandate." Tomlinson later said that his comment was in jest and that he could not imagine how remarks at a fun occasion were taken the wrong way. A report whose results were publicized in November 2005 sharply criticized Tomlinson for the way he used CPB resources to "go after" this perceived liberal bias.[3]
  • Some of its documentaries on Islam and the Arab world, such as Empire of Faith, have been attacked as either fawning or factually challenged.
  • Kenneth Tomlinson, who took over in 2003, began his tenure by asking for Karl Rove's assistance in overturning a regulation that half the CPB board have practical experience in radio or television. Later he appointed an outside consultant to monitor the regular PBS program NOW with Bill Moyers. Told that the show had "liberal" leanings, Moyers eventually resigned after more than three decades as a PBS regular, saying Tomlinson had mounted a "vendetta" against him. Subsequently, PBS made room for libertarian commentator Tucker Carlson (now of MSNBC, a former co-host of CNN's Crossfire), and Journal Editorial Report with Paul Gigot, an editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page (this show has since moved to FOX News Channel). On November 3, 2005 PBS announced the resignation of Tomlinson amid investigations of improper financial dealings with consultants.

[edit] New networks

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 network), PBS KIDS (ended October 1, 2005), PBS KIDS Sprout, 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-X 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). (See List of United States over-the-air television networks.) Some or all are available on many digital cable systems, on free-to-air TV via communications satellites [4], as well as via DirecTV 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 8:00 AM (school time, though kids this age usually don't go to school.) PBS endings usually end with something like "This Is PBS."

[edit] References


[edit] Further reading

  • B. J. Bullert, Public Television: Politics and the Battle over Documentary Film, Rutgers Univ Press 1997
  • Barry Dornfeld, Producing Public Television, Producing Public Culture, Princeton University Press 1998
  • Ralph Engelman, Public Radio and Television in America: A Political History, Sage Publications 1996
  • James Ledbetter, Made Possible by: The Death of Public Broadcasting in the United States, Verso 1998

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Preceded by:
National Educational Television
Public Broadcasting Service
Succeeded by:
Broadcast television networks in the United States
ABC | CBS | FOX | NBC | PBS | The CW | MyNetworkTV

Specialty networks: A1 | i | ImaginAsian | MTV2 | OBN | RTN | CAS | Asia Vision | RSN

Digital-only specialty networks: qubo | NBC Weather Plus | The Tube | Create
Religious networks: 3ABN | CTN | Church | CTVN | Daystar | EWTN | Faith TV | FamilyNet | GLC | GEB
Hope | JCTV | LeSEA/WHTV | Smile of a Child | TBN | TCT | TLN | UBN | Word Network | Worship

Major Spanish networks: Telemundo | Univision
Spanish specialty networks: Azteca América | HITN | HTV | LAT TV | MTV Tr3s | Multimedios | TeleFutura
Spanish religious networks: Almavisión | Fe-TV | LFN | TBN Enlace USA

Home shopping networks: America's Store | Corner Store TV | HSN | Jewelry TV | Shop at Home | ShopNBC
Major defunct broadcast networks: DuMont | The WB | UPN | NET | PTEN

See also: List of American over-the-air networks | Local American TV stations (W) | Local American TV stations (K) | Canadian networks | Local Canadian TV stations | Mexican networks | Local Mexican TV stations | Superstations | North American TV | List of local television stations in North America | Fox affiliate switches of 1994 | 2006 United States broadcast TV realignment

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Public Broadcasting Service

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