Welcome to the PBS production checklist of all content-related requirements and specifications. We have kept it succinct so you can spend less time reading and more time working on the things required for your production. Take a look at each item and be sure your content reflects what's listed in this section.
PBS Editorial Standards
The PBS Editorial Standards & Practices articulate the core principles that ensure the quality and integrity of all PBS content, including the pbs.org program sites. Everyone who helps create content for program sites is responsible for familiarizing themselves with the Editorial Standards, publicly available at www.pbs.org/about/producing-pbs, with related resources available by registering at hub.pbs.org/standards.
Site QA, Copy Edit and Fact-check
A thorough program site quality assurance (QA) must be performed by the producer before delivery to PBS, including a professional copy edit and fact-check (per Section IV.A.1 of the Editorial Standards, which requires implementation of rigorous fact-checking procedures). PBS also reserves the right to require time in the production schedule for PBS QA at its discretion.
Copyright Protection and Notification
Producers must take full responsibility for protecting the copyright of their program site as well as the property rights of materials licensed for use on that site and provide copyright information at the bottom of every page of a site. The following copyright information must be included at the bottom of every page on the program site:
Copyright Year Content Provider Name. All rights reserved.
All pbs.org program sites must display the date of publication at the bottom of every page next to the copyright notice. If content is corrected or updated, the appropriate pages must also bear a "last updated on" date stamp.
Credits and Sources
All content, including images, must be credited and sourced. An author's name should appear next to the individual's work; if possible, a brief biography should be included, or the author's name should be linked to a page with biographical information. Authors' names also should be included in the Site Credits section of the program site.
If the program site includes site or program credits, they must be presented on a separate page and not on the homepage or section index pages. The only exceptions are proprietary credits (such as “A film by…”) and host and narrator credits as approved by your Program Manager.
On pbs.org, there are three opportunities for program funders to be recognized:
- Funder logos in footer of program website
- Funder text on Show page (Funder text is limited to 500 characters, including spaces, on the front end, but additional characters are allowed in the backend to accommodate hyperlinks and HTML coding.)
- Up to :15 Funder Pod on full length video. Full specs here.
Funder recognition must be consistent with the PBS Funding Standards & Practices, available at www.pbs.org/about/producing-pbs. Transparency is a core tenet of the PBS Editorial Standards; as such, clear disclosure of funders is required, and anonymous funders are not permitted.
Program sites must be designed so that key content features are accessible to users without plug-ins. If a plug-in is used for a key feature, a non-plug-in version must also be included. This is to ensure that your content is visible on any device.
Altering involves adding, subtracting, or rearranging the elements in a photo and should not be done unless disclosed to the user, editorially necessary, and performed consistent with the production practices requirements of Section IV.D of the PBS Editorial Standards. Techniques commonly used with photo stills that are generally permitted include camera moves (e.g., zooming, panning), cropping, highlighting a portion of a photo, and computer layering.
Corrections and Updates
Factual errors must be corrected in a transparent manner. A correction must be placed as close as possible to the corrected content. The correction should (1) briefly explain the error, providing the audience with important context; and (2) provide the corrected information in a straightforward manner that is easy for the audience to understand (e.g., CORRECTION: A previous version of this article mistakenly stated …”).
It may be appropriate to acknowledge a journalistic or editing oversight that does not consist of a factual error, e.g., omitting context that might have aided the audience’s understanding of an issue. In these instances, the labels “EDITOR’S NOTE” or “CLARIFICATION” can be used. However, these labels should be used judiciously; they should not be used as euphemisms for corrections.
Minor errors that do not affect the content’s meaning, such as inconsequential punctuation errors, can be fixed without disclosing a correction or clarification.
Consistent with Section IV.A.2 of the PBS Editorial Standards, PBS must be immediately notified about any significant errors.
All program sites must be maintained by the producer throughout the term of rights. This includes:
- Keeping outside links current
- Maintaining databases
- Updating broadcast information
- Responding to users
- Troubleshooting site glitches
Users must have a mechanism for reporting broken and/or outdated links, which create an experience that will discourage the audience from visiting or returning to your program site.
Any vanity URL must be presented to and approved by your Program Manager. Vanity URLs (e.g. pbs.org/hemingway) are traditionally employed for national common carriage programs. The URL requested may be submitted prior to your site map and digital strategy plan. Once the site is live, you must not change the URL without permission from PBS.
File and Directory Naming Conventions
You must use the following file and directory naming conventions in line with SEO best practices.
- The primary program site URL must match the program name if applicable, use hyphens between words, and omit articles such as the, a, and an. Correct: pbs.org/program-name Incorrect: pbs.org/the-program-name or pbs.org/programname.
- A simpler redirect URL may be created with PBS Digital's approval. For example: pbs.org/program redirecting to pbs.org/station/full-program-name.
- Subdirectories and file names must be given clear, descriptive names, use hyphens between words, and omit articles. For example: pbs.org/program-name/subdirectory-subject/descriptive-page-title.html.
- Files and directories must use an all-lowercase naming convention. Do not use capital letters, and do not use any characters other than a-z, 0-9, period (.), and dash ( - ) . Spaces are not allowed in file or directory names.
Title tags must be included on every page and feed. All sites launched after November 1, 2009 must use titles that begin with targeted keywords relevant to each page or feed and end with the name of the site and "PBS." The title strategy should follow best practices posted to the SEO section of PBS's Producer Exchange, and must be approved by your Program Manager.
Outside links must be easily identified as such and open in a new window or tab. All links must be researched, vetted, and maintained. Annotation describing the link and how it is relevant must be provided so users can quickly assess their interest in the site without clicking through. Any links to potentially controversial content require pre-approval by PBS Digital, and may require warnings to identify the content as potentially objectionable to the user. PBS reserves the right to require producers to remove inappropriate or broken links to outside sites.
Social account branding
- Account name: PBS in the name (@shownamepbs)
- Display name: Show name | PBS
- Cover images: Tune-in if applicable, PBS logo
- Must include PBS if used on broadcast (#WaltDisneyPBS, #RoadshowPBS, etc)
- Official hashtags should be submitted to PBS Digital for review before show packaging
- Exceptions to be cleared by PBS Digital in advance
Social image asset branding
- Must include PBS logo
Social video asset branding
- Social video should include persistent PBS branding, either as a standalone logo + PBS watermark or as a PBS + Show logo watermark
- End card: PBS logo must be included
- Closed captions required for all social short-form video that supports SRTs
- Social Video Branding Guidelines
PBS Logo and Branding
Program site pages must not include more than one PBS logo; the PBS logo within the global navigation bar is the only PBS logo that should appear on the site pages.
The PBS logo should not be embedded in video that is only displayed on pbs.org as this video already appears within a branded, PBS-only context. Video for syndication, social media, and other media and content that can be viewed outside of pbs.org must include branding elements, which can be provided by your program manager.
Design and Usability
Developers must be particularly careful to create a space that is clear and intuitive, with strong attention to readability, clarity, and navigability. Compliance with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (http://www.w3.org) guidelines and recommendations is required to ensure acceptable and up-to-date web design and usability practices.
The pbs.org global navigation bar must be placed on every page of your general-audience program site using a standard server-side include. All other navigational elements must be in a consistent location on your site.
The pbs.org navigation bar is automatically generated by a server side include available in the PBS Product Documentation area at http://docs.pbs.org/x/L4Cr. This include must be inserted immediately after the HTML <BODY> tag, and must not be contained by any other design elements. The include may not be placed within a table, DHTML layer, <DIV> or any other tag. Do not hard code the resulting navigation bar graphics into your pages.
Maximum Page Dimensions
Web pages must be viewable without horizontal scrolling on a 1024 x 768 pixel screen resolution.
Program sites must not promote advocacy that supports a specific viewpoint or encourages users to take action related to a specific viewpoint. Educational information about ways that your program site visitors might consider taking action related to a particular issue or topic must have appropriate context and labeling. Visitors must not perceive that the program site's editorial independence has been compromised by a particular agenda or by association with an outside entity.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, there may be rare instances when – in consultation with PBS management – it is appropriate to advocate for funding that specifically supports PBS’s non-profit educational mission and that advances the work of PBS and its member stations.
E-mail Feedback Form
Every program site must include an e-mail feedback form and inform visitors how their feedback will be considered, indicate optional fields, and ask users for their permission to post. This tool for direct feedback is required in addition to any commenting opportunities that may exist on the program site, which post publicly and are focused on specific content. All e-mail feedback forms must use the PBS Postmaster code widget (http://docs.pbs.org/x/doCr). Once producers are no longer obligated to maintain the program site, they must update the form to send users to the general PBS feedback page at http://www.pbs.org/aboutsite/aboutsite_feedback.html.
No Under Construction Pages
"Under construction" pages are not allowed, however, producers may launch long-lead preview sites for promotional purposes in consultation with their Program Managers.
Custom 404 Pages
Customized 404 ("Page not found") pages must be submitted for pre-approval at the content outline and page design stages. All customized 404 pages must be in HTML only and must use PBS's redirect script at http://docs.pbs.org/x/dYCr.
A customized 404 page should match the look and feel of your program site and must contain the following elements:
- A brief statement explaining the error (e.g. "The page you are trying to reach doesn't exist at this address. If you reached this page by clicking on a link, please fill out the form below. Be sure to include the name of the site you were trying to visit and the address (URL) of the page that brought you here. (Press the Back button on your browser to see this address.)")
- An e-mail form to report a broken link (it is recommended that you use the Postmaster code widget).
A Meta Description must be included on each page of your program site, and should follow best practices in the SEO section of the Producer Exchange.
Search Engine Optimization
Program sites must follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices outlined in the SEO section of the Producer Exchange.
You must plan and execute key content features in a way that ensures accessibility for audiences with disabilities, particularly those who are sight- or hearing-impaired. WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) 2.0 Level AA compliance is required, as outlined at http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20. Most grant-funded projects also require Section 508 compliance. For more information on making your content accessible, visit the National Center for Accessible Media's website at http://ncam.wgbh.org.
All program sites must include the following text on every page, ideally in the site footer: “PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.”