Fact check: PBS airing Jan. 6 hearings, but some local affiliates keep regular programming

·3 min read

The claim: PBS stations are not broadcasting the January 6th hearings

As hearings by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection continue in Washington, D.C., a social media rumor claimed a major public broadcaster would not be airing them.

“BREAKING!! PBS STATIONS WILL NOT BROADAST (sic)THE FAKE J6 HEARINGS,” read a June 16 Facebook post that was shared more than 300 times in five days.

It's presented alongside a map of PBS local affiliates, but neither the map nor the post presents any evidence of this claim. Because it's baseless.

Some PBS member stations opted not to air some of the hearings on their main channels, but many others broadcast the Jan. 6 proceedings. In geographic markets where the hearings were not broadcast on a main PBS channel, viewers could still watch the testimony unfold on secondary digital channels or PBS' online platforms.

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USA TODAY reached out to the user who shared the claim for comment.

An image of former U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a screen during the second hearing held by the January 6 Committee on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.
An image of former U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a screen during the second hearing held by the January 6 Committee on the U.S. Capitol on June 13, 2022.

Some stations broadcast hearings, others aired regular programming

In a June 21 email to USA TODAY, PBS spokesperson Jeremy Gaines said the outlet was "offering a variety of ways for viewers to access the hearings," including through broadcast and PBS' digital platforms. Most stations provided coverage of the hearings on their main broadcast channel or the WORLD Channel.

Gaines referenced PBS' broadcast plan for the hearings, which was published on its website on June 9. It said the outlet's flagship program, PBS NewsHour, would offer “live special coverage on broadcast, online and on social media” starting on the day of the first hearing.

"PBS local member stations operate independently and decide how these hearings will be carried on their respective broadcast channels," Gaines said.

Local TV schedules show PBS member stations have broadcast the hearings on their main channels. That includes WFYI in Indianapolis on June 9, Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, on June 13 and WHYY in Philadelphia on June 21.

The decision to broadcast the hearings was made by member stations. The Washington Post reported some stations, including those in Wyoming, Arizona and Georgia, opted not to disrupt daytime children’s programming with coverage of the hearings because that content could potentially be inappropriate for children.

Those stations aired the hearings on a secondary digital channel instead. It wasn’t clear how many member stations broadcast the hearings, but The Washington Post reported PBS spokesperson Brianna Barker “suggested that more stations will carry them on their main channels as the hearings progress.”

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PBS North Carolina did not air the committee’s first public hearing on June 9 because station personnel “knew the access (to the hearing) was there on multiple levels, and we knew that we had locally produced programming that people were expecting, interim station CEO David Crabtree told The Raleigh News & Observer.” The station reversed its decision after viewer complaints and was set to broadcast the remaining hearings, the newspaper reported.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that PBS is not broadcasting the January 6th hearings. While some member stations opted not to air the hearings on their main channels, many stations also chose to air the proceedings. The hearings were available on a secondary PBS channel or the PBS website in places where it wasn't available on the main channel.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: PBS broadcasting House Committee's Jan. 6 hearings