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PBS Satellite Service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

PBS Satellite Service (also known as PBS National Program Service or simply PBS Satellite; formerly known as PBS Schedule X in Eastern Time, with the West Coast delay signal designated PBS-XP) are feeds relayed from PBS by satellite. The service was launched in September 1978.[1] The service provides a mixed variety of programming selected from PBS's regular network services. In the X/XP years a satellite feed was multicast by some PBS member stations on an over-the-air DTV sub-channel along with their regular programming, or during overnight hours on their main channel to provide a second opportunity for viewers to watch or record primetime programming. PBS currently utilizes two transponders on the AMC-21 satellite. Transponder 24 is a MCPC (multiple channel per carrier) which currently has seven channels uplinked from the PBS NOC (Network Operations Center) in Alexandria, VA.[2] Transponder 23 utilizes four SCPC (Single channel per carrier) feeds which are shared amongst different affiliates across the country at various times.[2]

As of 2020, the PBS satellite feeds can be received unscrambled using a free-to-air satellite receiver set to these coordinates:

Currently, select stations broadcast the feed, usually overnight, like KGTF (PBS Guam, broadcasts most of the channel as a localised feed). The channel is also available over satellite providers like DirecTV (Channel: 389). PBS stations provide all of their channels free to TV providers who do not receive local channels.

Slowly, PBS has begun to phase out a few of their satellite feeds. In 2016, PBS discontinued their 'Schedule SD01' Ku band feed on AMC-21. On March 4th, 2019, PBS's C-Band feed on SES 3 (103°W) was discontinued.[5] In 2019, PBS discontinued their NRT (non-real-time) file-based transponder on AMC-21. On November 13, 2019, PBS discontinued their 'Schedule SD07' Ku band feed on AMC-21, which was uplinked from SCETV in Columbia, South Carolina. PBS is currently transitioning to a fiber based network, known as sIX, and is expected to begin "Stage 2" of deployment of sIX by the end of 2020.[6] The original end date for the PBS Satellite Service was slated for 2016, but was later pushed to 2018, then pushed again to the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021.


Starting in the early 1970s, PBS had been distributing programs via telephone lines from AT&T.[7] According to PBS, the use of telephone lines to deliver programming was "incapable of producing high-fidelity sound," so they started to look for an alternate method of distributing via satellite.[8] At the time, which was during the mid-1970s, PBS utilized what was knows as DATE (Digital Audio for TElevision) to transmit stereo audio; however, according to PBS, it was never widely adopted due to "high cost".[9] In September 1978, PBS made programming available via satellite for the first time.[1] PBS utilized four transponders on the Westar 1 satellite to deliver programing. In April 1988, PBS began encoding programs with VideoCipher II, which not only allowed for stereo audio (something PBS had been trying to accomplish,) but also enables multi-channel audio for services such as Descriptive Video Service or for a Secondary Audio Program.[10] The feeds for PBS were usually broadcast in a "fixed key" mode (usually 0000,) which allowed anyone with a VideoCipher II receiver to be able to receive these feeds.[11] PBS would encrypt the feeds anytime they aired what they referred to as "private communications," which include teleconferences and previews of programs that they haven't yet received broadcast rights for.[9]

From 1978 until 1994, PBS distributed its content via C-Band (first on Westar 1 from 1978-1982, Westar II from 1982-January 3rd, 1991, Spacenet 1 from January 3rd, 1991-July 18th, 1992, and Spacenet IV from July 18th, 1992-February 5th, 1994); on February 5th, 1994, which the launch of Telstar 401, PBS switched its primary feeds to Ku band. With the failure of Telstar 401 on January 11th, 1997, PBS temporarily moved their feeds to Telstar 402R.[12] Later, PBS moved their feeds to AMC-3 (GE-3) at 87°W, where they resided until 2008, when the feeds moved to AMC-21 at 125°W, where they currently reside.[13]


The channels currently available via Ku-Band satellite are as follows (Lyngsat):

Discontinued Feeds:

Currently, PBS Satellite uses the national PBS logo.


Throughout much of their history on satellite, PBS utilized four transponders corresponding to a different "Schedule," namely 'Schedule A,' 'Schedule B,' 'Schedule C,' and 'Schedule D'. Starting around 1988, PBS would begin displaying a on-screen schedule on their feeds; this was in response to confusion and concerns from home dish users concerning schedule availability.[14] PBS would later drop this practice starting around 1996. In 1997, PBS would rename their feeds with the prefix "50-" (Schedule 501, 502, etc.).

In 2008, with the transition to HD, PBS launched feeds HD01-HD04, along with feeds SD01-SD07 (SD01, SD03, and SD07 are now defunct). The 'Schedule 501-504,' 511, 512, and 513 feeds were discontinued on February 11, 2009. In June 2013, PBS launched their HD05 feed.[15]


The PBS Satellite Service is freely and nationally available from the designated Ku broadcast satellites using free-to-air satellite dishes as small as three feet. The five 'Schedule' feeds (HD03, HD04, HD05, SD05, SD06) broadcast different programs at various times throughout the day, with weekends and late night hours usually having no feeds. Some program feeds are only temporary and are usually not consistent. PBS will usually feed programs a few days to as long as a few weeks in advance.

When no program is being fed, the channels will broadcast a slate displaying the name (e.g. Schedule HD03) and the time & date (both Eastern and Pacific time are shown).

HD03 is uplinked from the PBS NOC 24/7 and uplinks programs from PBS as well as APT. These feeds include pledge programs, preview feeds, soft feeds, and until January 2020, promo reels. HD04 is uplinked from various sites as well as the PBS NOC and includes programs from the National Educational Telecommunications Association, or NETA. HD05, like HD04, is uplinked from various sites and the PBS NOC. Pledge feeds are usually uplinked on this feed as well during pledge season. PBS content is less likely to air on HD04 and HD05 due to the amount of other programs fed by different uplinks.

Various videos of the network (PBS-X, 1994; PBS indent with a schedule of programs and a looped message reading, "On this transponder, you'll find programs from the PBS National Program Service and programs from other Public TV distributors as well.") (Schedule B, May 10, 1990; electronic programming guide showing a schedule for part of the current day's programs) (PBS-X, 1995; 5-second indent saying, "You're watching PBS. Viewer supported public television.") (HD01, 2018; PBS Promos before Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) (2001; PBS Kids promos before PBS Newshour) (2001; During 9/11 PBS Kids promos before Zoom) (2001; During 9/11 Newshour credits before PBS Kids) (Schedule HD03, July 06, 2016; Test Pattern and slate before Charlie Rose; this is the current layout.)

See also

PBS HD Channel

External links

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ "Lyngsat - AMC 21 at 124.9°W". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  4. ^ "Lyngsat - SES 2 at 87.0°W". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
This page was last edited on 21 July 2020, at 03:33
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