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US network PBS to lunch in Britain

The American current affairs network is going to compete with the BBC for the public service market.

The American TV network Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has announced plans to launch a UK channel devoted to "upmarket" US history, arts and science programming on BSkyB and Virgin Media.

PBS is best known for producing the educational children's show Sesame Street, as well as hard hitting current affairs documentaries like Frontline. It runs on a $430m federal budget and attracts an average of 124m US viewers. It is often accused of having a liberal bias by congressional Republicans, who are currently trying to cut its funding.

PBS will begin broadcasting in the UK on 1 November with a mini-series about the 18th Amendment, which banned the sale of alcohol. Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK's general manager, said: "Viewers are used to seeing US drama and comedy but ... there are high quality factual programmes coming out of the US that criticise the Government."

James Maxwell is a Scottish political journalist. He is based between Scotland and London.