How public TV works
Congress created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1967 with a purpose: to be "educational, innovative, locally relevant and reflective of America's common values and cultural diversity."
A private, nonprofit corporation, CPB sends federal money to 350 public television stations and nearly 700 public radio stations.
Each license holder receives a base grant from CPB, plus other, smaller grants that make up only part of its revenues. KCTS, which runs the Seattle and Yakima stations, received a base grant of $1.5 million in 2001, a fraction of its $20.9 million budget.
CPB does not create or distribute shows. That's the job of the Public Broadcasting System, formed in 1969 as a private, nonprofit corporation. PBS is actually "owned" by the local public stations and gets its money from CPB and local stations, which pay for programming such as "Masterpiece Theater" and "Nova."
There are four types of stations: university-related, state networks, community stations and education-related, such as those operated by local school boards. KCTS was affiliated with the University of Washington until 1987, when it switched to a community license.