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If your Christmas traditions include gathering the family to watch classic holiday TV specials, you might want to mark your calendar or set your DVR now. Unfortunately, one of the most longstanding, beloved programs, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” will only air on TV once this year. And it might surprise you to learn which network will be presenting it.
PBS will broadcast “A Charlie Brown Christmas” on Sunday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 CT. The show will air ad-free on PBS and PBS Kids. It will also be available for streaming on Apple TV+. (And, of course, you could always just get the DVD so you can watch it whenever you like.)
“We are delighted to bring the joy of these holiday classics to families across the country, in partnership with our member stations,” Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, said in a statement. “During these challenging times, public television continues to be a free and easily accessible source of comfort, inspiration and education for millions of Americans.”
In October, the network presented “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and will air “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” on PBS and PBS Kids on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 CT.
For two decades, the Peanuts Gang showed up on ABC. However, Apple TV+ acquired the rights to all three holiday specials in 2020. Backlash over the streaming-only availability followed as the shows have aired on free, over-the-air broadcast networks since 1965. PBS announced it would also air the specials last year and is continuing to do so.
In 1965, when the Christmas show was initially pitched to CBS executives, they outright rejected it. The network president saw specials as programming interruptions that distracted habit viewers from their routines, and other execs didn’t think jazz belonged in a cartoon. Peanuts creator Charles Schulz even got pushback from his own team.
But Coca-Cola bankrolled the program, and the show went on. Half of the American TV viewers tuned in, the reviews were outstanding and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” remains a beloved classic holiday special more than 50 years later.