PBS logos

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PBS logos are station identifications used by the US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Programs distributed to its member stations end with a television ID including the PBS name and logo and often a voiceover, known in the industry as a "system cue". From 1970 to 1984 the logo was usually displayed on-screen for eight seconds. Since 1984 the logo has appeared on-screen for five seconds.

This article also covers the logos used by PBS's predecessor, National Educational Television.

National Educational Television Logos[edit]


NET's first logo

The National Educational Television and Radio Center was established in November 1952. Its original on-air logo was used from then to 1962. It was a two-dimensional still shot[1] of a white map silhouette of the United States inside a black oval over a white background. Inside the map design are three sets of segmented lines shaped like television monitors with the letters NET inside each box. A TV antenna appears vertically through the map design with the words National Educational Television at the top and Educational Television and Radio Center underneath. However this can be slightly seen due to low picture quality. A version with a circle reading NET and a version with a map reading National Educational Television have also existed. The other version used from 1959 to 1962 has the house with "NET" engraved in it.


NET network b&w stars logo.svg

The original logo for the abridged National Educational Television was first used on June 17, 1962[2] to October 2, 1966. It was a simple still shot of the network's logo—the letters "NET" with a slanted roof coming out of the top-right of the "T", hanging over the "N" and the "E," with a small antenna sticking out over the sling pod letter "N." There are also "stars" all over the screen. The end result resembles a carpet, which has led to some fans joking it was probably shot on a floor. Meanwhile, an announcer says, "This is National Educational Television." Another version said "This is NET. National Educational Television" with the logo slightly zoomed in.



A classic logo was used in 1966. First, gray dots appear and disappear rapidly. A white circle is sketched around the dots. A vertical line is sketched over the circle, but then is erased. A small fire or a jumping one appears in the circle. Several curved vertical and horizontal lines cover the circle to create an image of the globe. Several white lines appear under the globe to form the letters "NET". The globe ultimately winds up on top of the "T". The theme playing in the background opens with several bell sounds followed by an orchestral tune, as an announcer says "This is N-E-T, the National Educational Television network."


NET's fourth and final logo

This was a variant of the 1962 logo made for color. First, the left section of the screen tilts with red from the bottom, the middle section fills with yellow from the top, and the pulling section fills with blue from the bottom. Then, one at a time, the sections flip back over outward to form matching pairs with the letters N, E, and T (in that order) on a black background. An announcer says, "The following program is from/this is NET, the National Educational Television network." As he does this, the words "National Educational Television" appear over each of the letters, then mutate into a roof charged to the blue T with an aerial antenna connected to it. On later variants, a different announcer says, "The following program is from/this is NET, the public television network." Once this variant was introduced the "National Educational Television" wordmarks were replaced with a blue line that slid into view, then took the roof shape.

The theme was a synthesized horn score composed by Eric Siday (1905-1976), who also composed the score for the similar-sounding Screen Gems and CBS color programming logos.

The updated opening and closing logos are included intact on the second volume of the Sesame Street: Old School DVD with the first test pilot episode.

Public Broadcasting Service IDs[edit]

PBS's first logo

First logo[edit]

On October 5, 1970, Macdonald Carey (known as Dr. Tom Horton on Days of Our Lives) would say "This is PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service." This ident served the network for its first year. The picture was simply a still with the words PUBLIC, BROADCASTING, and SERVICE, set in Helvetica and displayed in red, yellow, and blue, respectively. During this ident's time, it served as a filler for the NET ident until the second PBS ident was introduced. It was actually previewed on August 30, 1970 in front of the Grateful Dead concert program Calebration, before PBS came out.

Second logo[edit]

PBS's second logo

The second PBS ID was used from 1971 to December 10, 1984. It features cel-animated tricolor letters that assemble onscreen to form the logo, similar to the concepts used for production logos from that era, such as those from MTM Enterprises.

This logo starts with a full-screen present blue "P," which zooms out to the upper-middle, taking on the shape of a face in profile (which would become the PBS P-Head) as it turns left. Soon after, an orange "B" and then a green "S" pop out, with dots popping off to form the spaces in those letters. In tandem with the letters appearing, the words "PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICE" appear individually at the bottom of the screen, left-aligned, and in a sans-serif typeface.

This logo was designed by Ernie Smith[3] and Herb Lubalin of the Lubalin Smith Carnase design studio, on assignment from the Lawrence K. Grossman advertising agency, whose creative chief, Ron Aigen, directed the logo search. The agency then commissioned the accompanying music, composed by Paul Alan Levi, which consists of a bold Moog synthesizer score, beginning with a rapidly descending, telephone-like scale, followed by five warm, heavy brass-like notes. This was the only logo used for PBS programming until the third PBS logo debuted in 1984. The logo is featured on the Sesame Street: Old School and The Best of the Electric Company DVD sets.

Lubalin's human face "P", known internally at PBS as "Everyman", but more commonly known as "P-Head", became the basis for all subsequent PBS logos.[4]

Third logo[edit]

PBS's third logo

The third PBS logo was used from December 10, 1984 to 1989. The logo was principally developed by Tom Geismar of Chermayeff & Geismar.[5]

Chermayeff & Geismar felt that the Lubalin-designed logo too much resembled the logos of the three dominant commercial networks of the time, and they sought "to develop a symbol that could stand for the more inclusive concept of 'public television'". They inverted Lubalin's "Everyman" "P" to face right instead of left, repeated the outline as a series "to suggest a multitude, a public", and renamed the icon "Everyone".[4] The repeated outline of the face has also been interpreted to suggest a degree of "multiculturalism" as well as the public service aspect of the PBS mission.[6]

The logo starts with a blue abstract profile of the human face, facing right, set on a black background. A piece blasts to the right, and settles a short distance from the figure. The letters "PBS" appear below in a white, slab serif typeface. The accompanying theme, composed by Jonathan Elias, consists of a majestic technozen piano chord accompanied by some pizzicato tones, then a softer version of the piano chord.

This logo allegedly first appeared on the Nature episode "Krakatoa: The Day That Shook the World", which aired on September 30, 1984. This logo then replaced the 1971 logo completely on all new programming the day after.

A version of the logo appeared at the end of the first episode of Square One Television in which it appeared as normal, then multiplied with a background chorus singing "And on, and on, and on...". This was to coincide with the song "Infinity", which was featured in that episode.

Fourth logo[edit]

The fourth PBS logo was used from 1989 to 1993. On a black background, a holographic side-facing transparent blue P-head switches to the right, leaving behind a wave of P's. The trailing P's hologram into the PBS logo from before, which blends into the center of the screen, occupying almost all of it. Several white and rainbow lines streak across the bottom of the screen, keeping the text "PBS" in the same typeface as before to the bottom left. An announcer (actor Liam Neeson) says, "This is PBS." or "You're watching PBS."


PBS's fifth logo

The fifth PBS logo was used from 1993 to 1996. Designed by the New York design firm Telezign, it starts with a pink glass circle spinning while 8 faces of various people appear and disappear within it. Then it jumps out through the eye of the stylized P's in an orange/pink installation art environment. The familiar "PBS" text spins in, in white and to the left of the P.

The accompanying theme, composed by Peter Fish, is described as "a musical airport signature that employs 4 different voices like Etihad Airways (a pop singer, a blues singer, a soprano and a bass), with qualities ranging from classical to jazz". A male voice (provided by actor Christopher Murney) says "This is PBS." or "You're watching PBS."[7]

This ID is not animated with computer graphics, but rather was created traditionally on film. The stylized P is frosted glass, and the PBS text is rotated into place by rods beneath a rostrum. The movement of the scene was created with a motion control camera.


The sixth PBS logo was used from 1996 to 1998. Its composition now included of a variety of items: A telescope turns in the lower left corner; a globe of the Earth shows at upper right; while at center a framed windowpane traps in. The various objects fade away to reveal the stylized P's, which are initially yellow-green with the right section splatted blue. These colors change to blue and green, respectively, while the "PBS" text gets in below. The ending result resembles the third ident. Actress Lauren Bacall says "This is PBS", or occasionally "You're watching PBS".


The seventh PBS logo was used from 1998 to 2002. It is a combination of live action and computer effects. It begins with a man or woman holding up a black, round disc printed with a white PBS logo. As he/she holds the disc in front of his/her face, several superimposed acrobats jump and somersault behind the person, in a circular pattern. The letters "PBS" appear in black to the right of the disc, with the PBS website address (www.pbs.org) below the letters. This is the first time the website address has appeared in a PBS logo.

The accompanying theme is a world/new age piece, with Lauren Bacall saying "This is PBS." Sometimes, Bacall will say "You're watching your public television station, PBS." People who have held the round disc in this logo include Jocelyne Loewen, Jake Martin, Kyle Hebert, Lynne Thigpen, Michelle Ruff, Chris Rock, Steve Burns, Gong Li, and even Bacall herself.

This logo also introduced a minor change to the PBS logo. From here on, the PBS figure logo appears in a black circle, with the "PBS" text to the right. According to Chermayeff & Geismar, the disc was disguised as a shield if it was added to keep the logo "from background interference".[4]


The eighth PBS logo was used from 2002 to 2009. It features live-action footage filmed on a large set with a hardwood floor and shaggy brown curtains and has many variants, including "Young People" (voiceover by Edie Mirman), "Performers" (voiceover by David Kaye), "Flowers" (voiceover by Helen Mirren), "Daddy and Son" (voiceover by Kyle Eastwood), "Cowboy" (voiceover by David Kaye), and "Generations" (voiceover by Edie Mirman). It ends with the PBS logo animating over the scene. Each variant has its own special arrangement of the current PBS promo music, along with a voiceover. The voiceover is one of these six people saying "We are PBS," or occasionally, "I am PBS."

There is also a version that uses a purple-blue background instead of the original shaggy brown curtains. The words "Perspective. Analysis. Understanding." flash briefly and fade out, then "Be More" scans to the right, followed by "PBS" in white. Bob Hilton says, "This is PBS." This variant can only be seen on Frontline.


PBS's ninth logo

The ninth PBS logo is the current one in use which began on September 27, 2009.[8] The logos show various people engaged in different, leisurely activities, some stargazing and others reading a scrapbook. Each ends with a voiceover saying "Be more, PBS," or occasionally, "You're watching PBS." The "Be more" slogan is displayed, with the PBS logo to the right. "PBS" in text follows which transitions to the website "pbs.org." The idents were designed by Los Angeles-based Troika Design Group.

PBS Kids logos[edit]

First logos[edit]

Prior to September 10, 1993, PBS Kids television programs used the same PBS idents seen on adult-oriented programming. Starting that year, however, a new ident was commissioned specifically for children's programming that consisted of three P-heads (affectionately called "P-Pals" by the PBS staff), one of them blue, another one orange, and the last one green, complete the three-beat cycle drawn as a cartoon. (In actuality, the P-heads are in different colors that change throughout the ident and eventually stop on blue, orange, and green, respectively.) The P-heads dance, make a three-beat cycle, and sing "This is P-B-S!" over a new jack swing jingle, then freeze when a dog (also cone-shaped and as a P-head) runs by the lower portion of the screen and barks "Arf!" and later on gains the leader a balloon with E/I (Educational/Instructional) in it. At the same time, the blue P-head gives a Michael Jackson-esque ad lib and his red cap/hat hops off of his head for a moment, then goes back on his head. The "PBS" text appears in black at lower left.

This was used on programming such as Barney & Friends, Lamb Chop's Play-Along, Arthur, Adventures from the Book of Virtues, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow, Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Kratts' Creatures, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, Zoom, Groundling Marsh, The Puzzle Place, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, The Magic School Bus, Noddy, Theodore Tugboat, Wimzie's House, Wishbone, Zooboomafoo, Shining Time Station and Ghostwriter.

There was also a "surprise!" variant featuring the P pals from the closing logo switching colors (no blue is used in this ident), and they all have O-shaped mouths for the entire time. There is no music, save for noisemakers and Big Bird and many other characters from PBS Kids TV shows shouting "SURPRISE!" in unison, followed by laughter and cheering. Once again, the left P pal's red hat flies off his head for a moment, then goes back on his head. This was only used spontaneously.

Second logo[edit]

The second PBS Kids logo was used from 1999 to 2013. Each featured PBS Kids' boy and girl mascots, Dash and Dot. On all versions, the PBS Kids logo appears at the end on a background of some kind of a pattern. On the first logo, Dot runs up to the screen and a thought mark appears with the letters "PBS" in it. The second logo is of Dash itching his head and thinking of the idea "PBS". The third variant has Dot transitioning forms: a cat, an octopus, and an astronaut. The fourth is similar to the one prior to it. It has Dash in three forms: a caveman, a scuba diver, and a robot. The fifth variant has Dash ice-skating in an icy globe which is held by Dot in the Cobalt Plateaus. The final version has Dash looking in his fish bowl to find Dot as a fish, chomps himself up, and swallows himself as a fish.

Third logo[edit]

The third PBS Kids logo is the one in use from 2008 to 2013. Themes for the logos (featuring Dash and Dot) include: telescopes, rock climbing, picnics, gardens, and magnets among many others. These logos are in high-definition.

Fourth logo[edit]

The fourth PBS Kids logo is in use since 2013 has Dot, Dee, and Del doing before the Dash PBS Kids logo appears. Themes for the logos include: zipline, beehive, forest run, magnet, and moonwalk among many others. Like before, these logos are in high-definition.


A series of logos were commissioned for use on programming with a focus on telling children to be active. They consist of kids doing several forms of exercise on a set with a block motif. At the end, one of the kids pushes a lever, or pushes a button (or activates some kind of mechanism), which reveals the PBS Kids Go! logo: a speech bubble with the block name in it. The accompanying music is a percussion-themed whistling tune, ending with kids' voices saying "Go!" As with other current PBS logos, there are several variations, like one with kids riding on a bicycle, one with kids making the logo appear on the computer, or one with kids building the logo with blocks. There have been several sets of these logos.

PBS Kids Sprout logos[edit]

PBS Kids Sprout got its first logo on September 26, 2005, which consists of a green flower with the words "PBS Kids" written on it and the word "sprout" under it in children's handwriting accompanied by hand-drawn animation.

New logos premiered in 2009.

PBS Kids Preschool Block[edit]

Within the PBS Kids Preschool Block, there are many different logos after each program. They do not include the PBS Kids boy or girl as of September 1999, except for the last few seconds when Dash is shown in the PBS Kids logo. Some include still pictures of real children, but they do occasionally move a little bit. These logos usually have a general theme, such as dinosaurs, bees, a picnic, or someone taking pictures with a camera. In later seasons, they were replaced by what Dash and Dot are doing before his/her logo appears.

PBS Home Video logos (1989-present)[edit]

At first, PBS distributed copies of its programs on its own, under the "PBS Video" label. There was no special logo for PBS Video. The tapes were simply copies of PBS' master tapes. Then PBS introduced its "PBS Home Video" label, going through commercial distributors: Pacific Arts (1989–1994), Turner Home Entertainment (1994–1997), Warner Home Video (1997–2004), Paramount Home Video (2004-2011) and currently PBS Distribution (2011–present).


The first PBS Home Video logo was used from 1989 to 1998. A large 3-D glass profile is set on a black background, filling the screen as it did on the TV logo. Initially, a cloudy sky pattern fills the profile, which then fades to a blue stylized P against the cloudy sky background. Lines shoot into the profile's eye, and "PBS HOME VIDEO" appears below in the familiar slab serif typeface. The text is filled with a "water" pattern. The accompanying music is a calm piano/flute/string sounder, along with an announcer saying: "The following presentation is from PBS Home Video." On some tapes, a PBS television logo appears afterward. The ident (minus the announcer and with a different ending) would repeat itself at the end of the videotape, save for releases of Adventures from the Book of Virtues, which used either the first PBS Kids logo or the 6th PBS logo.


The second PBS Home Video logo was used from 1998 to 2004. Three circles (a red, a green, and a blue circle) meld together and then zoom out resulting in the P head and the words PBS DVD.

1998-2004 (VHS releases only)[edit]

The second PBS Home Video logo was used on VHS tapes from 1998 to 2004. Similar to the PBS DVD logo, except the text says PBS HOME VIDEO.


The third PBS Home Video logo was used from 2004 to 2009. It begins on an ethereal blue/purple/red CGI background, then the PBS logo appears within a circle with "Be more" on the left, "PBS" to the right. Sometimes, only "PBS" appears.


The fourth PBS Home Video logo has been used since 2009. It is based on the blue version of the generic 2009 PBS logo.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "KETC | Because of You: 50 Years of Channel 9 | Part I". KETC via YouTube. 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2013-09-02. 
  2. ^ George W. Woolery (1983). Children's Television, the First Thirty-five Years, 1946-1981: Live, film, and tape series. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press. p. 594. ISBN 978-0-8108-1651-0. 
  3. ^ Jennifer Dunning (April 4, 2004). "Ernie Smith, 79, Jazz and Dance Authority". The New York Times. He worked at several advertising agencies in New York. Among them were Sudler & Hennessy and Lubalin, Smith & Carnase, where he developed a logo for PBS. 
  4. ^ a b c Chermayeff, Ivan; Geismar, Tom; Haviv, Sagi (2011). Identify: Basic Principles of Identity Design in the Iconic Trademarks of Chermayeff & Geismar. F+W Media, Inc. p. 68. ISBN 1-4403-1032-7. 
  5. ^ Steven Heller, "ART; A Laboratory for Sign Language", The New York Times, December 14, 2003.
  6. ^ Gernsheimer, Jack (2008). Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols that Endure. Allworth Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-58115-649-2. 
  7. ^ John Carmody, "The TV Column", The Washington Post, January 1, 1993 (pay site), reprinted as "PBS Logo Takes on a New Look", Albany Times Union, January 5, 1993, copy available here or here from HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  8. ^ "PBS Gets a Fresh Look for Fall". 2009-09-25. PBS stations will debut the new package in conjunction with the September 27 premiere of Ken Burns's most recent film series 

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