PBS channel will air kids’ shows 24/7 starting Monday

SHARE PBS channel will air kids’ shows 24/7 starting Monday

A movie spun off from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” will be part of the programming on the new PBS KIDS channel. | PBS photo

PASADENA, Calif. — Coming very soon: KIDS — all day, every day, on PBS.

On Monday, the nation’s public broadcasting service will launch PBS KIDS, a 24/7 channel devoted to children’s programming provided by PBS’ local stations on television and via live streaming on digital platforms.  The goal, PBS President Paula Kerger told television critics, is to reach all of America’s children, of every socio-economic level, with the service’s high quality children’s programming.

PBS KIDS will not launch on every station Monday, but by the end of the year, Kerger expects the channel to be available to 90 percent of American TV households. In Chicago, the programming will air on WTTW’s Channel 11.4, seen on Comcast Channel 368 and RCN Channel 39.

As for why KIDS is being offered all through the night, Kerger says it’s because there are some children who watch TV at night, many of them in hospitals. And because PBS does not rely on ads, she doesn’t have to worry about whether she could make more money by offering infomercials at 3 in the morning.

In addition, in April, KIDS will launch a weekly evening series, “PBS KIDS Family Night.” Airing at 6 p.m. Fridays, “Family Night” will feature movies, specials or themed programming designed for family viewing — including a new Daniel Tiger movie, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Tiger Family Trip.”

These could be interesting times, of course, for PBS, as a new administration examines PBS’s funding. Asked what PBS expects from a Donald Trump presidency, Kerger says, “It’s too early to tell. I’ve been in this work for a long time…We have periodically gone through periods where our funding is at risk.”

PBS’s first step, Kerger says, is to remind Congress of the important role PBS plays in education and civic discourse. As for how that process will go, Kerger says “stay tuned. … In the meantime, we will be spending time, and in particular our stations will be spending a lot of time, talking to our legislators.”

Even in these divided times, Kerger says, polls say PBS continues to be one of the most trusted services in America. “The fact that we are trusted, that we have a presence in every community in this country, makes us different from any other media organization. … At the end of the day, we are inherently local media organizations,” and that, she says, gives PBS a unique space in the national conversation.

Some of that conversation settled this season on one of PBS’s bigger hits, “Great Performance’s Hamilton’s America.” It was a show that brought the service attention and a younger audience, while using the arts to inspire people to delve more deeply into history and social issues.

“As we look back, home run all around,” says Kerger. “We are in a conversation with a lot of people looking for other opportunities like that.”

Robert Bianco, USA TODAY

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