Viewer Services

Closed Captioning

Pioneered by Public Television, this service allows the hearing impaired to follow the spoken portion of a program by converting it to text at the bottom of the screen. A converter box or specially equipped television is required to produce the captioning. The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 requires built-in caption decoder circuitry in most new televisions.

Most of Iowa PBS's programming is offered with closed captioning, and is available on all Iowa PBS stations.

Statement of Compliance with FCC Rules on Closed Captioning:

All programming produced by Iowa PBS which is first broadcast on or after March 16, 2015 satisfies the closed captioning quality standards established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Such programming complies with the FCC’s requirements by either: (i) satisfying the caption quality standards set forth in 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(j)(2); (ii) adopting and following the “Video Programmer Best Practices” set forth in 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(k)(1); or (iii) being subject to one or more of the captioning exemptions set forth in 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(d).

For Closed Captioning concerns please contact:

We will make every effort to respond or otherwise resolve your inquiry within 24 hours or one business day. Before sending a formal written complaint, we recommend you first contact our captioning hotline. We may be able to resolve your problem immediately without the need for a formal complaint. In any event, we will respond to your complaint within 30 days. 

Viewer concerns contact:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 800.532.1290
  • Fax: 515.725.9840
  • Mail: Iowa PBS
    P.O. Box 6450
    Johnston, IA 50131-6450

Technical captioning contact:

  • Bill Hayes, Director of Engineering
  • Email:
  • Phone: 515.725.9765
  • Fax: 515.725.9840
  • Mail: Iowa PBS
    Bill Hayes
    P.O. Box 6450
    Johnston, IA 50131-6450

Internet captioning contact:

  • Danny Engesser, Web Designer/Developer
  • Email:
  • Phone: 515.725.9711
  • Fax: 515.725.9840
  • Mail: Iowa PBS
    Danny Engesser
    P.O. Box 6450
    Johnston, IA 50131-6450

Descriptive Services

Descriptive Video Service/Descriptive Video Information (DVS/DVI) is a means of making television more accessible to the visually impaired by providing a spoken description of a program's key visual elements. DVS/DVI uses stereo technology to transmit a second, separate audio channel. Settings, actions, scene changes and body language can thus be described without interfering with the program's dialogue. To receive DVS/DVI, viewers must have a stereo TV or a stereo VCR that includes the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel. Most TVs and VCRs now sold include this feature.

Several PBS programs broadcast by Iowa PBS, including Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! now include DVS/DVI. These programs are identified in our Advance program guide. The service can be received only from Iowa PBS's stereo-equipped transmitters: Channel 11, Des Moines; and Channel 12, Iowa City.

Ratings Guide

In 1996, the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable Television Association and the Motion Picture Association of America established voluntary TV ratings. These ratings, display on your television screen for the first 15 seconds at the beginning of each hour of a program.

TVY: All Children

This program is designed to be appropriate for all children. Whether animated or live-action, the themes and elements in this program are specifically designed for a very young audience, including children from ages 2 - 6. This program is not expected to frighten younger children.

TVY7: Directed to Older Children

This program is designed for children age 7 and above. It may be more appropriate for children who have acquired the developmental skills needed to distinguish between make-believe and reality. Themes and elements in this program may include mild fantasy violence or comedic violence, or may frighten children under the age of 7. Therefore, parents may wish to consider the suitability of this program for their very young children.

TVY7-FV: Directed to Older Children (Fantasy Violence)

For those programs where fantasy violence may be more intense or more combative than other programs in this category, such programs will be designated TV-Y7-FV.

TVG: General Audience

Most parents would find this program suitable for all ages. Although this rating does not signify a program designed specifically for children, most parents may let younger children watch this program unattended. It contains little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.

TVPG: Parental Guidance Suggested

This program contains material that parents may find unsuitable for younger children. Many parents may want to watch it with their younger children. The theme itself may call for parental guidance and/or the program contains one or more of the following: moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), or some suggestive dialogue (D).

TV14: Parents Strongly Cautioned

This program contains some material that many parents would find unsuitable for children under 14 years of age. Parents are strongly urged to exercise greater care in monitoring this program and are cautioned against letting children under the age of 14 watch unattended. This program contains one or more of the following: intense violence (V), intense sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).

TVMA: Mature Audience Only

This program is specifically designed to be viewed by adults and therefore may be unsuitable for children under 17. This program contains one or more of the following: graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), or crude indecent language (L).