How to Get a Show on the PBS Corporation Public Television
By Lee Knox
Updated September 22, 2017
There are three ways to get a show to air on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). You can submit material directly to PBS, go through a "presenting station" or, if it is a documentary that you have already produced, submit it to one of the independent film presenters who have an ongoing series on PBS. These series are Independent Lens, P.O.V. (Point of View) and Wide Angle. Keep in mind that PBS does not produce programs; they are a program service owned and operated by their member TV stations.
Submitting DirectlyTo PBS
Find the guidelines for program proposals on the PBS website under "Producing for PBS" and click on "Proposal Process."
Use the guidelines to prepare your proposal materials including a synopsis, treatment, time-line, budget and rights availability information.
Determine if your program is for children—including teenagers—or for adults.
Submit materials by mail.
For children's programs all materials should be sent to:
Senior Director, Children's Programming PBS Headquarters 2100 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202
For all other programs, materials should be sent to:
Vice President, Program Development & Editorial Management PBS Headquarters 2100 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202
Go Through A Presenting Station
Find your closest PBS affiliated station by going to the PBS website, clicking on "Station Finder" and entering your zip code.
Go to that station's website and find out whether they produce any local programs. If they do, find out who is the "Executive Producer." If they don't produce any local programs, then they don't have the staff or resources to help you, and you should find a larger station in your area through the PBS website station-finder.
Set up an appointment to see the Executive Producer about being the "presenting station" for your program. This simply means that they will do the groundwork to get you on PBS, and they will add their name to the credits.
Arrive at your meeting prepared with a synopsis, treatment, time-line, budget and rights availability information about your program.
Submitting Your Documentary To An Independent Film Presenter On PBS
Determine which category your documentary falls into: -Historical or human interest -Current events and politics -International interest
If you have a historical or human interest piece, go to the Independent Lens webpage at www.pbs.org/independentlens and click on "Submissions."
If you have a current events or political documentary, go to the P.O.V. webpage at www.pbs.org/pov and click on "Filmmakers," then click on "Submissions."
If you have made a film about another country or with international interest, go to the Wide Angle webpage at www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle and click on "About the Series," then on "About the Series" and finally on "Producing for Wide Angle."
Follow the directions on the applicable webpage for submitting material to that series' producers.
Keep in mind that all of these processes take at least one year between submitting material and the final goal: being broadcast on PBS stations.
Lee Knox has been writing since 1996. She has been a contributing writer to "The Kansas City Star," Kansas City's PBS station and Kansas City Community Radio. She received her Bachelor of Arts in communication from The University of Kansas.