Public Broadcasting Service
PBS
Type Broadcast television network
Country United States
Availability Nationwide
Slogan Be more
Key people Paula Kerger, President and CEO[1]
Launch date October 5, 1970
Former names National Educational Television (1952–1970)
Picture format 480i (SD)
720p/1080i (HD)
Official website pbs.org

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership.[2] Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia.

PBS is the most prominent provider of television programs to U.S. public television stations, distributing series such as PBS NewsHour, Masterpiece, and Frontline. Since the mid-2000s, Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as America's most-trusted national institution.[3] 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, WTTW National Productions and independent producers. This distinction is a frequent source of viewer confusion.[4]

PBS also has a subsidiary called National Datacast (NDI), which offers datacasting services via member stations. This helps PBS and its member stations earn extra revenue.

Contents

Overview

PBS logo (October 4, 1971 to September 30, 1984)

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.[5] In 1973, it merged with Educational Television Stations.

Unlike the model of America's commercial broadcasting 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 broadcasting 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 broadcast programming 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 television programming, including American Experience, Masterpiece Theater, Nova, Antiques Roadshow and Frontline, as well as many other children's and lifestyle shows. News programs are produced by WETA-TV (PBS Newshour) 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, and Cyberchase 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 city of license. In some U.S. states, PBS stations throughout the entire state may be organized into a single regional "subnetwork" called a state network (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 Owned-and-operated stations (O&O) anywhere in the country). This is partly due to the origins of the PBS stations themselves, and partly due to historical broadcast license issues.

In the modern broadcast marketplace, this organizational structure is considered outmoded by some media critics.[citation needed] A common restructuring proposal is to reorganize the network so that each state would have one PBS member 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 broadcasting 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. 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.[6][7][8][9]

In December 2009, PBS signed up for the Nielsen ratings audience measurement reports for the first time.[10]

"Viewers Like You"

Beginning on October 2, 1989, the phrase "Viewers Like You" has been used to indicate PBS's gratitude to viewers of PBS that contributed to the production costs. The phrase appears in the list of underwriters, at the start and end of all PBS programs with viewer contributions.

Formats

1970–1989

Prior to October 2, 1989, donations by viewers of PBS members were recognized as contributions from "this (station) and other public television stations." The on-screen text just showed "Public Television Stations".

1989–1999

From 1989 to 1999 the announcement consisted of:

  • The underwriting announcement, accompanied by a slide.
  • The words "Viewers Like You" (with "You" written out in yellow script in the early days).
  • The announcer says "Funding for this program was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by the (annual) financial support of Viewers Like You".
1999–present

Beginning on November 1, 1999, the PBS underwriting guidelines required all announcements to read, "This program was made possible by contributions to your PBS station from Viewers Like You. Thank You."

Programming

Primetime

Exercise

  • Power Yoga: Mind and Body
  • Wai Lana Yoga
  • Priscilla's Yoga Stretches
  • Body Electric
  • Allaire Back Fitness
  • Fitness Show
  • Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews
  • Classical Stretch: The Esmonde Technique
  • Sit and Be Fit

Daytime/children

 

PBS Kids has also imported British children's series from the BBC and ITV (for example, Tots TV, Teletubbies, Boohbah, and Thomas the Tank Engine), 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. PBS is also known for broadcasting British comedy and science fiction programs such as 'Allo 'Allo!, Are You Being Served?, The Benny Hill Show, Doctor Who, Father Ted, Fawlty Towers, Harry Enfield and Chums, Keeping Up Appearances, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Mr. Bean and Red Dwarf.

Contributing stations

Stations and/or networks that have produced or presented PBS-distributed programming include:

PBS networks

Network Notes
PBS YOU began 1998; ended January, 2006
PBS KIDS began October 11, 1993 as a block and 1999 as a TV network; ended 2005 as a TV network
PBS Kids Sprout began September 26, 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 (FTA) TV via communications satellites,[11] as well as via direct broadcast satellite. With the transition to terrestrial digital television broadcasts, many are also often now available as "multiplexed" (multicasting) 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.

Regional networks

While various digital subchannels are operated on a regional or statewide basis, the creation of individual PBS member stations or groups of stations is called a state network. 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.

Channel Origin Areas served
Alabama Public Television (APT) Alabama Educational Television Commission Alabama statewide
The 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
NET Nebraska Educational Telecommunications Commission Nebraska
ThinkBright TV WNED-TV New York statewide, except New York City, Syracuse and Rochester
OETA OKLA Oklahoma Educational Television Authority Oklahoma statewide
Wisconsin Channel Wisconsin Public Television nearly all of Wisconsin
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 South Carolina nearly all of South Carolina
The Ohio Channel WVIZ[citation needed] nearly all of Ohio
Smoky Hills Public Television KOOD Central and Western Kansas (Wichita Metro Area on satellite only)

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.

PBS Kids

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 1999 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. However, the original programming block still exists on PBS.

Sports broadcast on PBS

The network has shown some sporting events in its history.

During the 1970s and 1980s PBS was the leading American tennis broadcaster.[12][13] Bud Collins and Donald Dell were PBS announcers. PBS was the first American network to regularly broadcast tennis tournaments.[citation needed] PBS also broadcast Tennis for the Future, hosted by Vic Braden.[14]

In 1982, PBS, ESPN and ABC 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.[15]

Another PBS sports series was The Sporting Life, an interview series hosted by Jim Palmer.[16] The Sporting Life premiered in 1985 and was canceled soon after.

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.).

Criticism and controversy

Public need

PBS was founded to provide diversity in programming at a time when most television was broadcast over the public airwaves by only three privately owned national networks (as opposed to the multitude of programming sources provided by today's private cable or satellite delivery services). There is debate as to whether or not the PBS system has outlived its public necessity.[17] 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.[citation needed] In addition, they argue that PBS provides some types of critical television shows which would not be shown at all on the commercial broadcasting television networks and television channels, including extensive non-commercial educational children's programming, scientific exposition, in-depth documentaries and investigative journalism.[citation needed]

On-the-air fundraising

Since 53% to 60% of public television's revenues come from private membership donations and grants,[18] most stations solicit individual donations by methods including fundraising, 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.[19]

Political/ideological bias

  • The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 [1] 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.
  • Banned by PBS: Muslims Against Jihad On July 19, 2007, Fox News carried published "Banned by PBS: Muslims Against Jihad," charging the network of liberal bias.
  • In at least one instance (a 1982 broadcast of the United States Information Agency program Let Poland be Poland about the martial law declared in Poland in 1981), Congress has expressly encouraged PBS to abandon its conventional position of non-partisan neutrality. The program, a protest against the imposition of martial law by a Soviet-backed régime, contained commentary from many well-known celebrities. While widely viewed in the U.S., it met with skepticism on the part of European broadcasters due to concerns that the show, "provocative and anticommunist," was intended as propaganda.[20][21]
  • Kenneth Tomlinson, who took over at Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) 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 in 2005 after more than three decades as a PBS regular, citing political pressure to alter the content of his program and saying Tomlinson had mounted a "vendetta" against him.[23] Moyers eventually returned to host Bill Moyers Journal, after Tomlinson resigned. Subsequently, PBS made room temporarily for conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, formerly of MSNBC and co-host of CNN's Crossfire, and The Journal Editorial Report with Paul Gigot, an editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page (this show has since moved to Fox News Channel) to partially balance out the perceived left-leaning PBS shows.[24] On November 3, 2005 CPB announced the resignation of Tomlinson amid investigations of improper financial dealings with consultants.[24]

Tax money issues

One criticism is that PBS's viewers are substantially wealthier than the average American. Thus, the tax funding of PBS is, according the critics, a transfer of money from the poor to the rich.[25]

Another criticism is that PBS has extensively used its tax subsidized programs in order to lobby for tax money to itself by airing numerous advertisements urging its listeners to call Congress regarding PBS.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ "PBS Corporate Officers and Senior Executives". http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/aboutpbs_corp_officers.html. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  2. ^ "About PBS". PBS. 2008. http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  3. ^ "PBS #1 in public trust for the sixth consecutive year, according to a national Roper survey" (Press release). PBS. February 13, 2009. http://www.pbs.org/aboutpbs/news/20090213_pbsropersurvey.html. Retrieved July 14, 2009. 
  4. ^ Michael Getler (May 15, 2008). "Caution: That Program May Not Be From PBS". PBS. http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2008/05/caution_that_program_may_not_be_from_pbs.html. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  5. ^ Public Broadcasting PolicyBase (January 14, 2000). "Articles of Incorporation of Public Broadcasting Service". Current Newspaper. http://www.current.org/pbpb/documents/PBSarticles69.html. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  6. ^ The Charities Americans Like Most And Least, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, December 13, 1996
  7. ^ Charity begins with health, Concern over diseases cited; Karen S. Peterson; December 20, 1994; USA Today; FINAL Page 01D
  8. ^ Survey helps firms choose charities; Laura Castaneda; December 13, 1994; The Dallas Morning News; HOME FINAL Page 1D
  9. ^ Interview with Lavalle 9/7/09
  10. ^ Gorman, Bill (2009-12-20). "PBS Signs Up For Nielsen Ratings". Tvbythenumbers.com. http://tvbythenumbers.com/2009/12/20/pbs-signs-up-for-nielsen-ratings/36822. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  11. ^ "AMC 21 at 125.0°W". LyngSat. 2011-03-02. http://www.lyngsat.com/amc21.html. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  12. ^ "Search old newspaper articles online". NewspaperARCHIVE.com. http://www.newspaperarchive.com/LandingPage.aspx?type=glpnews&search=pbs%20tennis&img=\\na0022\3103475\16196143.html. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  13. ^ Janson Media: Consulting: Consultants[dead link]
  14. ^ "OCRegister.com – Sports Stats and information". http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=OC&p_theme=oc&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB0457AE6AADE6F&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM. 
  15. ^ Mark. "Penn Football Tapes 1980–1989". Letsgoquakers.com. http://www.letsgoquakers.com/football1980s.htm. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  16. ^ "Jim Palmer". Lecturenow.com. http://www.lecturenow.com/People/JimPalmer.htm. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  17. ^ "Joel Stein". Jewishworldreview.com. http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0705/stein070405.php3. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  18. ^ "Public Broadcasting Revenue Fiscal Year 2005" (PDF). http://www.cpb.org/stations/reports/revenue/2005PublicBroadcastingRevenue.pdf. Retrieved 2011-03-10. 
  19. ^ Getler, Michael (2006-03-24). "Pledging Allegiance, or March Madness?". PBS Ombudsman. http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2006/03/pledging_allegiance_or_march_madness.html. Retrieved 2006-05-22. 
  20. ^ Let Poland Be Poland (1982, TV) on IMDB
  21. ^ US Public Diplomacy in Hungary: Past and Present, Edward Eichler, April 25, 2008
  22. ^ Associated Press."Education chief rips PBS for gay character: Network won't distribute episode with animated 'Buster' visiting Vt.," MSNBC, January 26, 2005.
  23. ^ Paul Farhi (April 22, 2005). PBS Scrutiny Raises Political Antennas. The Washington Post
  24. ^ a b "PBS: Back to bias basics". The Washington Times. May 4, 2007. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/may/04/20070504-085842-9258r/. 
  25. ^ a b End taxpayer funding of public broadcasting, David Boaz, Baltimore Sun, June 27, 2005.

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

External links

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