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KBTC logo
CityTacoma, Washington
BrandingKBTC PBS
OwnerBates Technical College
First air date
September 25, 1961 (61 years ago) (1961-09-25)
Former call signs
KTPS (1961–1979)
KTPS-TV (1979–1980)
KTPS (1980–1992)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 62 (UHF, 1961–1982)
  • 28 (UHF, 1982–2009)
NET (1961–1970)
Call sign meaning
Bates Technical College
Technical information
Licensing authority
Facility ID62469
ERP100 kW
575 kW (application)
HAAT220 m (722 ft)
231 m (758 ft) (application)
Transmitter coordinates47°16′43.4″N 122°30′46.4″W / 47.278722°N 122.512889°W / 47.278722; -122.512889
Public license information
Websitewww.kbtc.org Edit this at Wikidata
Satellite station
  • 15.1: PBS
  • 15.2: NHK World
  • 15.3: FNX
  • 15.4: TVW
OwnerBates Technical College
First air date
October 2, 1982 (40 years ago) (1982-10-02)
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 15 (UHF, 1982–2009)
Call sign meaning
Centralia, Kelso and Aberdeen[1]
Technical information
Facility ID62468
  • 187 kW
  • 353 kW (application)
HAAT347 m (1,138 ft)
Transmitter coordinates46°33′15″N 123°3′30″W / 46.55417°N 123.05833°W / 46.55417; -123.05833 (KCKA)
Public license information

KBTC-TV (channel 28) is a television station licensed to Tacoma, Washington, United States, serving the Seattle area as a member of PBS. Owned by Bates Technical College. KBTC-TV maintains studios and transmitter facilities separately in Tacoma, with studios on South 19th Street and the transmitter on 35th Street. KBTC-TV is also broadcast on KCKA (channel 19) in Centralia, serving areas to the south and west of the Tacoma transmitter, and three other translators, one of them in central Seattle.

KBTC-TV is the secondary PBS member for the Seattle–Tacoma market. Through PBS' Program Differentiation Plan, KBTC-TV carries only 25% of the programming broadcast by PBS. The market's primary PBS member, KCTS-TV (channel 9) in Seattle, carries the remaining 75%. In addition to reaching a local over-the-air audience, KBTC-TV is available on Comcast Cable in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, and in many areas of southwestern Washington.

KBTC-TV was established by Tacoma Public Schools as KTPS on UHF channel 62 in 1961. A major facility upgrade in the early 1980s moved the station down the UHF dial to channel 28 and increased its broadcast area by adding a translator station. KTPS became KBTC after Bates Technical College was split from the school system in 1991.


Former KBTC logo used from 2002 to 2021.

The station signed on the air September 25, 1961, as KTPS, owned by the Tacoma Public Schools (licensed under the district's official name, "Tacoma School District No. 10").[2] Broadcasting on channel 62 from studios at the Vocational Technical Institute in Tacoma,[3] the station broadcast with 21,400 watts and provided instructional programming to the schools in the district as well as evening programs from National Educational Television. In 1967, KTPS boosted its power to 337,000 watts, making it the most powerful UHF station in the Northwest,[4] and received money to begin producing local programs in color in 1974.[5] The station, like all NET stations, joined its successor network, PBS upon its start on October 5, 1970.

In 1980, when Kelly Broadcasting settled with a citizens' group to return KCPQ (channel 13) to commercial status, one of the beneficiaries was KTPS. Since Kelly intended to move KCPQ's transmitter to Gold Mountain in Bremerton (thus increasing its signal range), it donated its previous transmitter tower near Ruston to KTPS.[6] The station was also beginning a new quest to move down the dial to a lower channel number than 62 in order to use more signal at less cost. It originally filed for Tacoma's channel 20 but bowed out in a settlement agreement with another applicant, who won the construction permit; that station would eventually become TBN O&O KTBW-TV.[7] The station was instead approved to move to channel 28 from the former KCPQ tower, having bought a UHF transmitter from Nebraska Educational Television; the technical upgrade came just as KTPS's original tower was blown down in a windstorm in February 1982 and the station was operating at severely reduced power in the interim period.[8]

The move from channel 62 to 28 took place in September 1982; shortly after on October 2, the station launched a full-power satellite southward in Centralia, KCKA on channel 15, thus increasing the station's reach in Western Washington.[9] In 1986, the station registered in the Nielsen ratings for the first time in its 25-year history; the next year, an upgraded transmitter expanded the station's signal range again, being receiveable now as far north as Everett.[10]

In 1991, the Washington State Legislature split technical colleges like Bates Technical College, where KTPS was housed, from the school districts with which they were affiliated.[11] As a result, KTPS' license was transferred to Bates Technical College, who changed the callsign to KBTC on October 12, 1992. When KSTW announced it would move to a new studio in Renton, it put its old studios in Tacoma up for sale. Bates made a move to purchase the studios to gain additional studio and production space.[12] The legislature approved the financing necessary to make the purchase in March 2000,[13] and KBTC moved in in late 2001.[14] In 2016, Bates converted the facility into a campus, the Central/Mohler Campus, by opening a second building, the Advanced Technology Center.[15]

KBTC's programming became digital-only on June 12, 2009.[16] However, KBTC-TV continued its analog signal as part of the FCC's "Nightlight" program, running a DTV transition guide.

On November 1, 2009, KBTC began broadcasting in 1080i HD on 28.1, with MHz Worldview appearing on subchannel 28.2. A documentary channel was broadcast on 28.3 and Create on 28.4, but was soon removed due to the increased bandwidth required for the HD broadcast on 28.1.

On May 15, 2010, K24IC-D began broadcasting in 1080i HD from Mount Constitution. On December 6, 2010, KBTC added TVW on subchannel 28.3.

On June 19, 2012, KBTC added a low power, 1 kW transmitter on channel 16 to serve Seattle.

On January 28, 2016, KBTC added NHK World on subchannel 28.2. MHz Worldview was shifted to 28.3, and TVW moved to 28.4.[17]

On November 7, 2017, K24IC-D suffered a prolonged transmitter outage due to a hardware failure. The transmitter resumed operation on November 11.

On September 26, 2019, KBTC moved its low-power Seattle translator to channel 28.[18] With the conversion of MHz Worldview into a subscription-based streaming service, the 28.3 subchannel switched to First Nations Experience on February 28, 2020.[19]


As the Seattle market's secondary PBS station, KBTC generally carries network programming on a delay of several days to week, and runs a more non-traditional PBS schedule than KCTS. More traditionally, it runs PBS Kids programming from the late morning into the early evening.

Local production[edit]

KBTC's local production efforts revolve around the weekly public affairs program Northwest Now, which features interviews with newsmakers, election night coverage, and electronic news-gathering pieces shot in the field. In addition to regular Emmy nominations, the program has won several Telly and Society of Professional Journalists Awards.

Full Focus is a half-hour documentary-style show that looks at some of the people, places, and historical events that have helped shape Western Washington. While Full Focus is no longer in regular production, episodes produced by KBTC Managing Editor Tom Layson, Oregon-based producer Forrest Burger, and former KBTC filmmaker Daniel Kopec are available on the station's website.

News programming[edit]

KBTC and Business Examiner produced a local program called the South Sound Business Report. The program first aired on April 20, 2010, on Seattle's CW owned and operated station KSTW (channel 11). The SSBR has since ceased production.

Technical information[edit]


The stations' digital signals are multiplexed:

Channel Video Aspect Short name Programming[20][21]
28.1 15.1 1080i 16:9 KBTC
Main KBTC-TV programming / PBS
28.2 15.2 720p NHK_WLD NHK World
28.3 15.3 480i FNX FNX
28.4 15.4 4:3 TVW TVW


City of license Callsign Translating Channel ERP HAAT Facility ID Transmitter coordinates
Bellingham K18NJ-D KBTC-TV 18 10.6 kW 751 m (2,464 ft) 167292 48°40′45″N 122°50′36″W / 48.67917°N 122.84333°W / 48.67917; -122.84333 (K18NJ-D)
Grays River K16LV-D KBTC-TV 16 0.5 kW 597 m (1,959 ft) 62387 46°27′39.3″N 123°33′02.5″W / 46.460917°N 123.550694°W / 46.460917; -123.550694 (K16LV-D)
Seattle KBTC-TV (DRT) KBTC-TV 28 1.8 kW 236.9 m (777 ft) 62469 47°36′56.3″N 122°18′30.4″W / 47.615639°N 122.308444°W / 47.615639; -122.308444 (KBTC-TV (DRT))


  1. ^ Anderson, Betty (January 1, 1981). "Plan to end school TV flap due soon—Cross". Tacoma News Tribune. p. A-5. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "KTPS Educational TV to Premiere Tomorrow". Tacoma News Tribune. September 24, 1961. p. C-16. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  3. ^ "Tacoma Education Channel 62 Will Beam First Program to Classrooms September 25". Tacoma News-Tribune. September 10, 1961. p. A-12. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  4. ^ "Tacoma Educational TV Returns Monday". Tacoma News Tribune. September 10, 1967. p. Magazine 22. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  5. ^ "All color at KTPS". Tacoma News Tribune. July 21, 1974. p. TV Spotlight 15. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  6. ^ Webster, Kerry (December 14, 1975). "Whole new life for Channel 13". Tacoma News Tribune. pp. TV Spotlight 2, 15. Archived from the original on August 25, 2021. Retrieved August 25, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Two TV channel applicants drop out". Tacoma News Tribune. May 5, 1981. p. A-6. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  8. ^ Pyle, Jack (September 18, 1981). "Channel 62 will become 28 with new tower". Tacoma News Tribune. p. B-6. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  9. ^ "KTPS-TV on air as Channel 28". Tacoma News Tribune. September 21, 1982. p. A-14. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  10. ^ Severson, Kim (March 30, 1987). "KTPS-TV able to 'turn on' more viewers". Tacoma News Tribune. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  11. ^ Popham, Art (July 18, 2021). "Parting of technical colleges from school districts is painful". Tacoma News Tribune. p. B4. Retrieved August 31, 2021.
  12. ^ Wickert, David (September 10, 1999). "Bates seeks to buy KSTW studio". Tacoma News Tribune. pp. B1, B3. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  13. ^ Wickert, David (March 23, 2000). "Bates can buy KSTW studio". Tacoma News Tribune. pp. B1, B7. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  14. ^ Wickert, David (August 11, 2001). "Local news may return soon on KSTW-TV". Tacoma News Tribune. pp. A1, A8. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  15. ^ Santos, Melissa (January 31, 2016). "Bates Technical College marks 75 years in Tacoma with new building, big plans". The News Tribune. Retrieved September 1, 2021.
  16. ^ "What digital TV delay means to North Olympic Peninsula viewers". Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  17. ^ "KBTC Public Television - KBTC 28.2 - NHK WORLD". Archived from the original on October 3, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  18. ^ "Technical alerts". www.kbtc.org. KBTC. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  19. ^ "MHz Worldview". www.kbtc.org. KBTC. Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  20. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KBTC
  21. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KCKA

External links[edit]