FAQs

Why is the national PBS schedule different from the local PBS?

PBS maintains a national schedule for a network that is specifically available for satellite customers. National PBS broadcasts were first introduced when satellite television was made available to the public. The first satellite television packages were unable to broadcast programming from local PBS affiliates. Local PBS broadcasts are now available only to television customers in specific viewing areas.

A Background of PBS

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non-profit network founded in 1969 as a method of distributing educational programming to viewers across the country. Viewership has steadily grown since PBS was formed, and it is now estimated that 90 percent of U.S. households watch PBS programming.

Differing PBS Schedules

The national PBS schedule is designed to match local PBS programming as closely as possible. However, PBS would like viewers to choose their local PBS station as often as possible. This has prompted PBS to allow national broadcasts to air new, prime-time shows one day after these programs are aired on local PBS stations.

Prime-time programs that are time sensitive are usually aired nationally on the same schedule as the local PBS channel. Programs that are aired on the local schedule include Wall $treet Week and Washington Week In Review.

Some customers are located in areas that are not covered by a PBS affiliate. Customers who would like to access local PBS programming out of the coverage area will need to contact their television service provider. Some providers offer access to the most local PBS channel for a small additional fee each month.

What is a PBS member station?

Member stations are non-commercial educational televisions stations in the U.S. that work with PBS to bring programming to homes across the country. There are more than 300 member stations actively working with to fulfill PBS’s mission to the American public – providing quality, enlightening and inspirational content. Member stations are usually where fundraising events are held so viewers can support PBS on a local level. Of course, the activities and presentations vary with each station so it’s wise to call ahead if you are looking to support PBS locally and nationally.

Is there any difference between PBS and NPR?

NPR is strictly a non-profit media enterprise much like PBS. However, PBS is owned and operated by member stations. PBS distributes television programming to hundreds of stations while NPR has little to no involvement with the television medium. NPR is also funded by member stations and listeners while PBS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), donations and member stations.

What about CPB?

CPB was created by the federal government and is a private corporation as opposed to PBS, which is a non-profit media enterprise. And, of course, CPB gets its funding from the federal government  as opposed to PBS which we already covered. CPB also does not produce nor distribute programming like PBS.

Why has PBS garnered criticism?

Certain critics, including outspoken members of political parties, feel that PBS and other social programs create unnecessary debt and don’t qualify as proper use of federal spending. The debate rages on regarding PBS’s relevance to American life.

About the author