KPTS, virtual and VHF digital channel 8, is a PBS member television station serving Wichita, Kansas, United States that is licensed to Hutchinson. The station is owned by Kansas Public Telecommunications Service, Inc., a non-profit educational organization. KPTS maintains studio facilities located on 21st and Waco Streets in northwestern Wichita, and its transmitter is located in rural northeastern Reno County (south-southeast of Buhler).
On cable, the station is available on Cox Communications and AT&T U-verse channel 8 in standard definition, and in high definition on Cox digital channel 2008 and U-verse channel 1008. The station's signal is relayed on fill-in low-power translator station on UHF channel 17, which operates its transmitter facilities in Park City.
In June 1965, the Garvey Foundation purchased a transmitter site in Hutchinson, with the intent to start a non-commercial educational television station. Shortly afterward, on July 21, 1965, the Sunflower Educational Television Corporation was chartered to start a public television station for the Wichita market. A year later, the SETC's board of trustees filed for a construction permit with the Federal Communications Commission for a non-commercial educational license on VHF channel 8, which was eventually assigned KPTS as its call letters.
The station first signed on the air on January 5, 1970; for its first ten months on the air, it served as a member station of National Educational Television, before becoming a member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) when it launched on October 6, 1970. In 1978, Sunflower Educational Television Corporation was reorganized as the Kansas Public Telecommunications Service. In 1980, the station moved to its current studio facility at 320 West 21st Street North in Wichita.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|8.1||720p||16:9||KPTS-DT||Main KPTS programming / PBS|
KPTS-DT2, which rebroadcasts KPTS' locally-produced and PBS network programming, is carried on Cox Communications digital channel 671; while KPTS-DT3, which broadcasts programming from the Create network, is carried on Cox digital channel 670.
The station signed on its digital signal on channel 8 at 10 a.m. February 16, 2008. KPTS shut down its analog signal, over VHF channel 8, on January 5, 2009; one month later on February 18, the station's digital signal relocated from its pre-transition UHF channel 29 to VHF channel 8.
Due to reception problems that occurred after the transition due to the short height of its previous transmitter tower near Buhler and the fact that the transmitter operated at a lower power that limited the station's coverage area, resulting in signal loss issues – especially in areas of lower terrain located south and east of Wichita, KPTS began raising funds to sign on a fill-in translator from a tower north of Wichita in 2011. Plans called for construction on the tower to begin in the summer of 2013 with the translator signing on by September; however, these plans were delayed due to frequent occurrences of record rainfall during July and August. The translator began operating on November 8, 2013.