40 Facts About PBS


PBS is a publicly funded nonprofit organization and the most prominent provider of educational programming to public television stations in the United States, distributing shows such as Frontline, Nova, PBS NewsHour, Sesame Street, and This Old House.

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PBS is funded by a combination of member station dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, pledge drives, and donations from both private foundations and individual citizens.

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PBS has over 350 member television stations, many owned by educational institutions, nonprofit groups both independent or affiliated with one particular local public school district or collegiate educational institution, or entities owned by or related to state government.

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PBS was established on November 3, 1969, by Hartford N Gunn Jr.

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In 2019, PBS announced plans to move its headquarters to another building in the Crystal Gateway complex, while remaining in Crystal City, Virginia, and did so in 2020, which included a top building sign visible off the Richmond Highway.

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However, PBS has a policy of "common carriage", which requires most stations to clear the national prime time programs on a common programming schedule to market them nationally more effectively.

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Once PBS accepts a program offered for distribution, PBS, rather than the originating member station, retains exclusive rebroadcasting rights during an agreed period.

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Since the mid-2000s, Roper Opinion Research polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as the most-trusted national institution in the United States.

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In December 2009, PBS signed up for the Nielsen ratings audience measurement reports, and began to be included in its primetime and daily "Television Index" reports, alongside the major commercial broadcast networks.

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In May 2011, PBS announced that it would incorporate breaks containing underwriter spots for corporate and foundation sponsors, program promotions and identification spots within four breaks placed within episodes of Nature and NOVA, airing episodes broken up into segments of up to 15 minutes, rather than airing them as straight 50- to 55-minute episodes.

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In 2011, PBS released apps for iOS and Android to allow viewing of full-length videos on mobile devices.

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On February 28, 2012, PBS partnered with AOL to launch Makers: Women Who Make America, a digital documentary series focusing on high-achieving women in male-dominated industries such as war, comedy, space, business, Hollywood and politics.

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PBS initially struggled to compete with online media such as YouTube for market share.

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On July 1, 2016, Amazon Prime Video and PBS Distribution entered into a multi-year agreement which saw several PBS Kids series on other streaming services move to Amazon Prime Video.

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PBS Distribution partnered with MultiChoice to launch PBS KIDS on May 22, 2019 on DStv and GOtv subscription platforms across its Sub-Saharan Africa footprint.

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In mid-2021, PBS Distribution added the channel to Australia's Foxtel subscription platform.

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In 2012, PBS began organizing much of its prime time programming around a genre-based schedule.

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The BBC and British broadcasters such as Channel 4 often cooperate with PBS stations, producing material that is shown on both sides of the Atlantic.

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PBS is not the only distributor of public television programming to the member stations.

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Boston-based American Public Television is second only to PBS for distributing programs to U S non-commercial stations.

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Since 2020, PBS has served as the over-the-air home to select specials from the Peanuts library, under sublicense from Apple.

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However, the original programming block still exists on PBS, filling daytime and in some cases, weekend morning schedules on its member stations; many members carry 24-hour locally programmed children's networks featuring PBS Kids content on one of their digital subchannels.

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PBS carried tennis events, as well as Ivy League football.

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Board of directors is responsible for governing and setting policy for PBS, consisting of 27 members: 14 professional directors, 12 general directors (outside directors), and the PBS president.

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PBS stations are commonly operated by nonprofit organizations, state agencies, local authorities, or universities in their city of license; this is similar (albeit more centralized in states where a licensee owns multiple stations rebroadcasting the main PBS member) to the early model of commercial broadcasting in the U S, in which network-affiliated stations were initially owned by companies that owned few to no other television stations elsewhere in the country.

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These cases, PBS utilizes the Program Differentiation Plan, which divides by percentage the number of programs distributed by the service that each member can carry on their schedule; often, this assigns a larger proportion of PBS-distributed programming to the primary member station, with the secondary members being allowed to carry a lesser number of program offerings from the service's schedule.

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PBS has spun off a number of television networks, often in partnership with other media companies.

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PBS has restructured its satellite feed system, simplifying HD02 into a timeshift feed for the Pacific Time Zone, rather than a high-definition complement to its formerly primary SD feed.

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On September 3, 2020, PBS began to offer a livestream of their member stations for free via its website, on smart TVs, and on their mobile apps.

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Many PBS stations carried MHz Worldview from the MHz Networks until 2020 when MHz Networks announced its discontinuation of the network on March 1, 2020.

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PBS introduced its first iconographic logo in 1971, a multi-colored wordmark of the network's initials with the P designed to resemble a silhouette of a human face.

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On November 4, 2019, in honor of the network's 50th anniversary, PBS unveiled a revamped brand identity by Lippincott, intended to be better-suited for use on digital platforms.

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PBS is paying out grants to at least 100 members to cover costs associated with the rebranding.

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PBS has been praised by critics for its variety of programming.

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Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter marked PBS' airing of Downton Abbey as a turning point for the network's reputation and program variety.

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Individual programs aired by PBS have been the targets of organized campaigns by individuals and groups with opposing views, including by former United States Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in 2005.

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Nonetheless, in every year since 2004, surveys of Americans have shown PBS to have been consistently ranked as the most trusted institution in comparison to commercial broadcast and cable television, newspapers, and streaming services, and in January 2021, Americans valued tax dollars spent on PBS behind only military defense and oversight of food and drug safety.

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In December 2004, Bill Moyers resigned as a PBS regular, citing political pressure to alter the content of his program, and saying Tomlinson had mounted a "vendetta" against him.

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In January 2021, Michael Beller, the chief attorney for PBS resigned after being caught on tape suggesting that the children of Donald Trump supporters should be sent to re-education camps.

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PBS provides an alternate path for Wireless Emergency Alerts to wireless carriers through its Warning, Alert and Response Network.

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