The Public Broadcasting Service in 1970 as a project of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, an entity created in 1967 by the federal government of the United States. PBS is a broadcast television network, but it operates differently than commercial broadcast networks. PBS member stations, which are often run by local non-profit organizations or universities, purchase the right to broadcast programming that is distributed by PBS, and local stations supplement that programming with locally produced content and shows produced by third parties.
PBS programming has traditionally focused much more on the arts, education, news and informational programming than have the commercial broadcast networks. Popular science programs such as "Nova" and "Nature," performance programs such as "Austin City Limits" and "Soundstage," news programs such as "NewsHour" and "Frontline," and dramatic productions like "Masterpiece Theatre" have long been the mainstays of PBS programming. Other programs like "Antiques Roadshow" and the period drama series "Downton Abbey" have found wide mainstream success that rivals the popularity of commercial programs.