Public Broadcasting Service


Public Broadcasting Service
a network of independent, noncommercial television stations that operate with public and government funding instead of with revenues from advertising. Abbr.: PBS
[1965-70]

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▪ American organization
      private, nonprofit American corporation whose members are the public television stations of the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa. PBS provides its member stations with quality programming in cultural, educational, and scientific areas, in children's fare, and in news and public affairs but does not itself produce programs; the programs are produced by the member stations, independent producers, and other program producers worldwide. PBS headquarters are in Alexandria, Va., outside Washington, D.C.

      The more than 340 noncommercial member stations are licensed variously by community organizations (such as WXXI in Rochester, N.Y.), by universities (WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, licensed to Ohio State University), by state authorities (South Carolina Educational Television), or by local educational or municipal authorities (WNYE, licensed to the New York City public schools). To coordinate and provide services to such stations, PBS was founded in 1969. It is governed by a 35-member board of directors, consisting of 13 professional representatives and 17 lay representatives from the member stations, 4 general directors, and the PBS president. Its activities include: (1) the National Program Service, offering general programs for both adults and children, (2) the Adult Learning Service, offering college-credit television courses, (3) the Elementary/Secondary Service, providing instructional programs for grades kindergarten through 12th year, (4) PBS Enterprises, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary selling goods and services to raise funds for PBS and member stations, (5) National Datacast, Inc., offering high-speed data delivery to homes and businesses, (6) PBS Video, which sells, rents, and licenses visdeocassettes to schools, libraries, and other public institutions, (7) PBS Home Video, which distributes videocasettes of public television programs for the retail market, (8) PBS Engineering, which researches and develops technical systems for PBS and its member stations, and (9) various fund-raising services handled by PBS divisions called Station Independence Program, Development Services, National Auction Service, and National Corporate Support.

      The U.S. federal government, through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other departments and agencies, contributes only about one-sixth of the funding for public television's national, regional, and local organizations. About 20 percent of the income derives from the contributions of viewers, and almost 20 percent comes from state governments. Other income comes from corporations and other businesses, universities and colleges, foundations, local governments, auctions, and other miscellaneous sources.

      Many of the public broadcasting series achieved considerable renown, including Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theatre, Great Performances, American Playhouse, American Masters, The American Experience, Wonderworks Family Movie, Mystery!, Live from Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Opera Presents, Evening at Pops, Nova, National Geographic Special, Smithsonian World, Nature, The World of Survival, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, Frontline, Firing Line, Adam Smith's Money World, Travels, This Old House, The French Chef, and The Frugal Gourmet.

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Universalium. 2010.

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