Arkansas Educational Television Network (or AETN) is a state network of 6 simulcastpublic television stations covering the entire state of Arkansas, and parts of Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. A member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the state network is operated by the Arkansas Educational Television Commission, an agency of the Arkansas state government. Located adjacent to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AETN broadcasts from the R. Lee Reaves Center for Educational Telecommunications via AETN's thirteen-site microwave interconnection relay system around the state, which cover most of Arkansas, as well as parts of all surrounding states.
Approximately two-thirds of AETN's funding comes from state tax dollars to support the broadcast infrastructure and all services that are provided for educators and schools. More than ten percent comes from the federal government as a partial match of what is raised locally. Almost twenty percent comes from voluntary contributions from individual viewers and businesses.
Thr Arkansas Educational Television Commission was created in 1961, following a two-year legislative study to assess the state’s need for educational television. KETS channel 2 in Little Rock, the flagship station, signed on in 1966 as the nation's 124th educational television station. In the early years, KETS was associated with National Educational Television, the forerunner of the current PBS. The early days saw black-and-white broadcasting only, with color capabilities beginning in 1972. Limited hours of operation in the early years focused primarily on instructional programming for use in Arkansas classrooms. Over the next fifteen years, four additional analog transmitters were added to expand coverage to virtually the entire state. Hours of operation gradually became 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week as general audience programming was added during the evenings and on weekends. These five analog transmitters were eventually replaced with six digital transmitters by mid-2009 as part of the national digital transition.
During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, AETN became an educational resource for public school and college educators through the use of instructional videos with teacher guides and supplements for grade school classrooms, college telecourses, and GED education for adults. During the mid-1990s, AETN began providing distance learning via broadcast, satellite, the Internet and compressed video to provide educational professional development as well as access for students to a wide variety of educational courses for classroom use.
AETN began creating local programming in the late 1960s and still annually produces more than 100 hours of full-length, educational and cultural programming specifically about Arkansas.
During 2009, leading up to the analog shutdown that would ultimately come on June 12, AETN closed down its analog transmitters on a staggered basis. The dates below show the final shutdown dates for AETN's analog channels.
January 25, 2009: KETS
February 17, 2009: KTEJ
June 12, 2009: KEMV, KAFT and KETG
KETZ signed on in 2006 as a digital-only station, though that station also had to endure a temporary shutdown in early 2009 in final preparation for the transition. KETZ Channel 12 is located on a tower near Huttig, AR owned by commercial NBC station KTVE-Channel 10 of El Dorado, AR and West Monroe, LA. KETS Channel 2 is located on a tower owned by commercial station KASN - Channel 38 of Pine Bluff, located at Redfield, AR. FM radio station 94.9 also uses this same tower.