KCTS-TV, virtual and VHF digital channel 9, is a non-commercial educational television station licensed to Seattle, Washington, United States, serving as the primary member station of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) for the Seattle–Tacoma television market. The station's offices and studios are located at the northeast corner of Seattle Center, and its transmitter is on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
KCTS-TV also operates semi-satellite KYVE (virtual channel 47, UHF digital channel 21) in Yakima, Washington, which serves as the PBS member station for the western portion of the Yakima/Tri-Cities market. KYVE has its own studio on Second Street in Yakima and transmitter on Ahtanum Ridge near Union Gap, though master control and some support operations are based at KCTS' studios in Seattle.
KCTS first went on the air on December 7, 1954, broadcasting from the campus of the University of Washington, the station's original licensee, and using equipment donated by KING-TV owner Dorothy Bullitt.
During the 1950s and 1960s, KCTS primarily supplied classroom instructional programs used in Washington State's K–12 schools, plus National Educational Television (NET) programs. Outside of schoolrooms, KCTS' audience among the general public was somewhat limited, and most programming was in black-and-white until the mid-1970s.
In 1970, National Educational Television was absorbed into the newly created Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). As a PBS member station, KCTS began offering a vastly enhanced scope of programming for the general public, including British programming.
KCTS moved to its present location on the Seattle Center campus in 1986. A year later, UW spun off KCTS, and the station became a community licensee.
KCTS is seen throughout southwestern British Columbia on local cable systems, as well as across Canada on the Bell TV and Shaw Direct satellite providers, as well as on many other Canadian cable TV systems. According to KCTS, "over 800,000 viewers tune in every week" from BC. KCTS receives substantial financial support from its far-flung Canadian audience as well as from viewers in Washington State.
In 1994, KCTS merged with KYVE, which has served central Washington since November 1, 1962. However, this wasn't the first time that the two stations had partnered together; during the early 1960s KYVE's engineers switched to and from KCTS' signal until the station's owners, the Yakima Board of Education, got enough funding for the station to be self-supporting. The station became a community licensee in 1984, but found the going difficult until its merger with KCTS.
During the mid- and late-1990s, some programs included a combined KCTS/KYVE visual bug in the lower-right corner of the screen, indicating they were simulcast to both markets. However, since the late 1990s, KYVE has largely been a straight simulcast of KCTS. Combined, the two stations serve 2.4 million people, including almost two-thirds of Washington's population.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|Main KCTS-TV programming / PBS|
Main KYVE programming / PBS
KCTS-TV shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 9, on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 41 to VHF channel 9.
KCTS is perhaps best known for producing/distributing the popular PBS Kids show Bill Nye the Science Guy, as well as other programs such as Students by Nature (not a PBS-distributed program), The Miracle Planet, cooking shows by Nick Stellino, Chefs A' Field, and the annual televised high school academic competition KYVE Apple Bowl, among other shows.