The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a private, non-profit public broadcasting television network owned by over 300 public television stations in the United States. PBS headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia. PBS was founded in 1969, at which time it took over many of the functions and stations of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET). PBS commenced broadcasting in October 1970.
It is funded by a combination of corporate sponsors, private donations from individuals and non-profit corporations such as the Annenberg Foundation, and Federal money through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
PBS produces a number of highly regarded children's shows such as Sesame Street, Barney and Friends, Shining Time Station and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as well as art programming such as Great Performances and Masterpiece Theatre and scientific programming such as Nova and Scientific American Frontiers. Many popular animated shows have aired on PBS, such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur, Liberty's Kids and The Magic School Bus. It also broadcasts Teletubbies, a BBC production. PBS stations are also known for rebroadcasting British television dramas and comedies, and much of the exposure of audiences in the United States to British television (particularly comedies) comes through PBS to the point where it has been joked that PBS means "Primarily British Series".
PBS has been the subject of some political controversy. Some conservatives dislike its perceived liberal bias and its government funding and have periodically, but unsuccessfully attempted to cut funding to the CPB. PBS has also been criticized by liberals in that much of its funding comes from corporate sponsorships and some liberals are uncomfortable with shows on PBS such as Wall $treet Week which they see as promoting a corporate outlook without any corresponding series featuring opposing views like labor unions.
Other, less partisan criticisms of PBS include:
- It was founded to provide diversity in programming at a time when all television was broadcast (as opposed to today's coaxial cable or satellite transmission methods) and most communities received only three or four signals. Today most households subscribe to cable TV or have satellite dishes that receive tens or hundreds of signals, including varied educational and children's programs.
- Although PBS and its affiliated television stations receive substantial amounts of money from U.S. taxpayers via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the stations also solicit donations by methods some find annoying including pledge weeks or telethons.
- http://www.pbs.org/ (PBS website)
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