The new PBS UK channel will launch at Sky channel 166 and Virgin Media channel 243, debuting with the British TV premiere of Prohibition, the Ken Burns-directed three-part documentary series about the prohibition era in America.
The network will also air acclaimed science, history and current affairs programming from the broadcaster which claims to reach 124 million Americans and 20m people online. Hit PBS shows include NOVA, American Experience, Frontline and PBS Newshour.
In a string of welcome messages for PBS UK, comedian and TV presenter Ruby Wax said: "Good luck PBS. You are our one hope for culture on television."
Bonnie Greer, the American-British playwright, said: "Back when I was a kid in the US, decades ago, PBS was a very potent antidote to mainstream American TV.
"I saw Brideshead Revisited on it, I Claudius, Monty Python and loads of other things: great documentaries, chat shows, films. PBS then and now in the US is about "dare" and you just knew and still know that when you tune into PBS you're in the hands of people who won't treat you like either a child (unless you are one) or a mug.
David Soul, Hutch in the original Starsky & Hutch, added: "I have watched and applauded the growth of PBS since its inception in 1970 with shows like Masterpiece Theatre and Nova and Frontline which actually aired a documentary that I produced. So I am delighted to hear that it's setting up house here in the UK.
"PBS means integrity in TV programming and continues, despite the pressures of competition, to be a breath of fresh air and an oasis of fabulous, non-commercialised television. Welcome to the UK."
The PBS UK channel is a joint venture between PBS Distribution and Canadian-born entrepreneur and philanthropist David Lyons. PBS will hold the international rights to the majority of the channel's output and will license its brand for the project.
As part of its carriage deal, Virgin Media has also secured the rights to offer PBS content on its video on-demand service, including the Virgin Media Player.
On-demand content will include music series The Blues, executive produced by Martin Scorsese and directed by the likes of Clint Eastwood, Mike Figgis and Wim Wenders, along with the British TV Premiere of Special When Lit, a documentary about the pinball machine.
However, PBS UK will not be available free-to-air as it will not launch initially on Freeview or Freesat. There has been no indication as yet whether there are plans to expand from pay-TV in the future.
> PBS UK channel to be managed by Red Bee Media