WCET, virtual channel 48 (UHF digital channel 34), is a PBS member television station located in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States. The station is owned by the Greater Cincinnati Television Educational Foundation,[3][4] a subsidiary of Public Media Connect. WCET was the first licensed public television station in the United States. Its studios are located in the Crosley Telecommunications Center on Central Parkway in Cincinnati, and its transmitter is located along Warner Street in the Mount Auburn section of Cincinnati. Master control operations are based at the studios of sister PBS member station WPTD in Dayton.


The Federal Communications Commission assigned channel 48 to WCET in 1951. A corporate charter and construction permit were granted in 1953. WCET began broadcasting on July 26, 1954, from a converted closet on the third floor of Music Hall. The first day of programming began with Tel-A-Story, a half-hour reading program by the Cincinnati library.[6][7][8][9] On March 11, 1955, the FCC granted WCET the first non-commercial educational broadcast license in the country.[11] WCET remained at Music Hall until 1959, when it moved to the former WLWT studios on Chickasaw Street.[6]

Originally, WCET was funded through local school levies. However, a failed levy in 1966 forced the station to seek other sources of funding. In 1968, WCET held its inaugural Action Auction, raising $31,000 in two days.[6]

In 1976, the station moved to its present studio location at the Crosley Telecommunications Center, which it now shares with the market's two main public radio stations, WVXU-FM and WGUC-FM.[12]

In 1981, Warner Cable agreed to carry four additional channels of instructional programming provided by WCET.[6]

In the late 1990s, like PBS member stations in many larger television markets, WCET partnered with the for-profit company Lakeshore Learning Materials to operate a retail store. WCET took a 25% share in the Channel 48 Store of Knowledge, which went towards the station's endowment fund. The 5,300-square-foot (490 m2) store sold merchandise related to PBS shows at the Kenwood Towne Centre from November 23, 1996,[13] until the chain's bankruptcy and liquidation in 2001.[14] The Discovery Channel Store opened in its place the following September.[15]

Once simply branded "Channel 48" and later as "WCET48", the station simplified its name to "CET" on September 16, 2003, moving away from its call sign and channel number to indicate its increasing focus on online services. It began an IP-based on-demand video service via its website, .

On May 8, 2009, the Greater Cincinnati Television Educational Foundation and Greater Dayton Public Television (owners of that market's PBS station WPTD) formed the umbrella non-profit organization Public Media Connect. Both WCET and WPTD operate as subsidiaries with separate branding and fundraising efforts.[16][17] The merger resulted in the July 2010 transfer of WCET's master control operations to WPTD's facilities in Dayton.[18]

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[19]
48.11080i16:9CETHDMain WCET programming / PBS
48.2480i4:3CreateCET Create
48.316:9CET ArtCET Arts

CrEaTe and CET Arts are also available on the digital cable tiers of local cable providers Time Warner Cable and Insight Communications.[20] "CETWorld", affiliated with PBS World (now branded as simply World), was carried on channel 48.2 from 2003 to January 5, 2009, and on 48.3 from September 24 of that year to February 1, 2010. During this time, it was also carried by Time Warner Cable. World programming continues to be carried on ThinkTV World, a subchannel of sister station WPTO.

On February 1, 2010, CETWorld was replaced with CET Arts on digital subchannel 48.3. CET launched CET Arts, the first local 24-hour cultural service of its kind on February 1, 2010. CET Arts showcases drama, visual arts, dance and music programming ranging from symphonic to bluegrass.[21]

On March 4, 2012 at 6:49 p.m., CET aired its first live high definition pledge break from its studio, around the concert program Under the Streetlamp.

Analog-to-digital conversion

WCET signed on its digital signal on UHF channel 34 on December 4, 2002; it began broadcasting in high definition 24 hours a day on October 1, 2005.[22] WCET discontinued regular programming on its analog signal, over UHF channel 48, at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, 2009.[23] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 34,[24] using PSIP to display WCET's virtual channel as 48 on digital television receivers.

Original programming

The following television series were previously or are currently produced by WCET:

  • Action Auction – televised station fundraiser
  • Congressional Outlook – national public affairs program hosted by Patrick Tyler; joint venture with Congressional Quarterly[26]
  • Focus 48 – local public affairs program
  • Showcase with Barbara Kellar – local arts and cultural series airing on CET Arts
  • It's Academic (1960s–1980s) – local version, in partnership with WLWT
  • Lilias, Yoga and You (1972–1999)