The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is an American public broadcaster and television program distributor. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, PBS is an independently operated non-profit organization and is the most prominent provider of television programs to public television stations in the United States, distributing series such as NOVA, Sesame Street, PBS NewsHour, Masterpiece, Nature, American Masters, Frontline, and Antiques Roadshow.
Since the mid-2000s Roper polls commissioned by PBS have consistently placed the service as the most-trusted national institution in the United States. However, PBS is not responsible for all programming carried on public television stations, a large proportion of which (including most specials aired during multi-annually pledge drives) come from third-party sources, including member stations (such as WGBH, WETA-TV, WNET, WTTW National Productions), American Public Television and independent producers. This distinction is a frequent source of viewer confusion.
The service has more than 350 member television stations, many owned by educational institutions or non-profit groups affiliated with a local public school district, collegiate educational institution or by state government-owned or -related entities. It also operates National Datacast (NDI), a subsidiary which offers datacasting services via member stations, and provides additional revenue for PBS and its member stations.
Founded by Hartford N. Gunn Jr., PBS began operations on October 5, 1970, taking over many of the functions of its predecessor, National Educational Television (NET), which later merged with Newark, New Jersey station WNDT to form WNET. In 1973 it merged with Educational Television Stations.