PBS Logo.svg
Launched 1 November 2011
Owned by PBS UK LLC[1]
Picture format 576i (16:9) (SDTV)
Slogan "Where television matters"
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Broadcast area United Kingdom, Ireland
Headquarters London, England
Website pbs.co.uk
Sky Channel 166
Virgin Media Channel 243

PBS UK is a British pay-TV version of the American non-profit television network PBS. It is a joint venture between entrepreneur David Lyons and PBS Distribution, which owns the international rights to the bulk of PBS's output.[2] The UK branch of PBS operates much like BBC Worldwide, a profit-making enterprise managed separately from the main non-profit, publicly financed arm, that will ideally generate money for its parent.[3]



PBS UK launched on 1 November 2011 via satellite on Sky and via cable on Virgin Media.[4][5] On 23 August 2011, PBS UK launched a placeholder channel called Rosa on Sky channel 231,[6] however they were able to acquire the more prominent channel 166 EPG slot from Information TV for use from launch.[7] On 28 October 2011, a barker channel for PBS UK was added to Virgin Media channel 243. The cable operator has also secured the rights to offer PBS content on its video on demand service, including the Virgin Media Player.[5]


The channel consists of content drawn exclusively from PBS,[8] both older and current for which it is able to secure the rights.[9] The PBS UK lineup heavily features documentaries and history programs such as American Experience, Frontline and Nova as well as Ken Burns documentary films such as Prohibition.[3][4] PBS NewsHour also airs the day after it is broadcast in the US. In total PBS UK is due to air 500 unique hours of content in 2011 and 1000 hours in 2012.[7] Children's programming such as Sesame Street does not air on the channel because the market is "well served for kids' content".[7]

Branding and marketing

The slogan for PBS UK is "Where television matters".[10] Channel 4's Channel 4 Sales division is the exclusive advertising sales representative for the network. The general manager of PBS UK said of the pick, "In the States, PBS is well-loved and trusted for its award-winning programming, so it was essential for us to select a company capable of delivering a high quality viewing experience throughout the ad-breaks as well. There's an obvious fit between our two brands and we're delighted to be represented by Channel 4."[10]

Branding and design agency Dunning Penney Jones was appointed to create the channel's on-air look and feel.[11] As well as repurposing the PBS branding used in the US, they created new idents specifically for the UK channel. The agency also designed four colour themes for each of PBS UK's four key programming strands for use on the channel, website and any off-air marketing.


  1. ^ "Television Broadcast Licensing Update July 2011". Ofcom. http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/tv-broadcast-licences/updates/072011. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "PBS UK launching in November". Realscreen. 11 August 2011. http://realscreen.com/2011/08/11/pbs-uk-launching-in-november/. 
  3. ^ a b "PBS Venture to Show ‘Nova,’ ‘Frontline’ in U.K. Broadcast Debut on Nov. 1". Bloomberg L.P.. 4 October 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-04/pbs-venture-to-show-nova-frontline-in-u-k-broadcast-debut-on-nov-1.html. 
  4. ^ a b "PBS sets UK launch date". C21Media. 11 August 2011. http://www.c21media.net/news/detail.asp?area=4&article=62171. 
  5. ^ a b "PBS UK confirmed for Virgin Media launch next week". Digital Spy. 28 October 2011. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/media/news/a347980/pbs-uk-confirmed-for-virgin-media-launch-next-week.html. 
  6. ^ "PBS on the hunt for media agency ahead of UK launch". Guerillascope. http://www.guerillascope.co.uk/TVAdvertisingNews/PBShuntmediaagencyforUKlaunchtvadvertising.aspx. Retrieved 6 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "Interview: PBS boss Paula Kerger on launching a UK channel". The Guardian. 16 October 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/oct/16/paula-kerger-pbs-uk-channel-interview. 
  8. ^ "PBS sets November launch date for UK channel". Rapid TV News. 12 August 2011. http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/2011081214289/pbs-sets-november-launch-date-for-uk-channel.html. 
  9. ^ "PBS Plans a British Outlet". New York Times. 31 July 2011. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/31/pbs-plans-a-british-outlet/. 
  10. ^ a b "Channel 4 Sales to represent PBS UK". Channel 4. 17 October 2011. http://www.channel4.com/info/press/news/channel-4-sales-to-represent-pbs-uk. 
  11. ^ "PBS UK appoints Dunning Penney Jones for on-air branding". Campaign. 11 October 2011. http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1097998/pbs-uk-appoints-dunning-penney-jones-on-air-branding/. 

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