Content Standards

How do I enter content into Merlin?

All content entered into the Merlin database must be assigned to a content channel, which may be the program title or some other brand, or sub-brand. A web or video object cannot be entered into the Merlin database without selecting a respective content channel.  After creating or obtaining access to a content channel, you can enter your content objects via manual entry into the Merlin admin tool or automatically via COVE Pro or an RSS feed adhering to Merlin's RSS feed specifications.

As your station on-boards to Merlin, you will be able to request the set-up of additional content channels.


Elements of a Content Channel

On and elsewhere, Merlin can use content channels to help leverage initiatives and sub-brands by displaying branding, links, and enabling channel-based filtering via the Merlin API. A content channel is defined as a group of content bound by an organizing editorial concept. Unlike an editorial package or category, channels are typically identifiable by sub-brand and consistently and deliberately updated with new content. They may also have a brand, logo, and independent marketing strategy.

For example, KQED’s content channels could include: (Channel 1) California News Report video stories and special features, and (Channel 2) the Web-exclusive Climate Watch blog within the California News Report because the blog is a distinct editorial feature that is regularly updated.

Examples of other potential content channels include:

  • blogs
  • feeds of recent community photo galleries
  • a set of feature articles

Looking for a simple test to see whether you're dealing with a content channel? Does the content have...

  • unique editorial framing or audience?
  • its own logo, brand or marketing approach?
  • consistently updated, fresh content?

If you can answer yes to two or more of these questions, you probably have a content channel.


What do I put into Content Channels?

There are editorial guidelines for Merlin content and certain specifications (e.g. character limits) that the content will need to abide by in order to be displayed through the API.

Below are the metadata fields Merlin requires to create a content channel. The editorial guidelines are designed to help you present a context-neutral, content-centric description for your content channel. The channel description should accurately describe the content users can expect to find from your program, blog or other Web content. The goal is to encourage users to click through to your content and have a meaningful experience.

Channel descriptions have two goals:

  • Promote the entire content experience -- television (if applicable) and digital;
  • Enhance the site's search engine optimization (SEO).



Editorial Guidelines


Technical Requirements




  • Should represent the distinct brand or channel, such as a TV program title or Web exclusive property that is a known entity


  • No HTML markup, links, or other styling
  • Limited to 60 characters, including spaces

Logo image


  • Especially with broadcast and broadcast-related channels, this will be the feature logo of the series
  • 16:9 ratio (640 x 360px minimum)
  • PNG file type
  • Transparency in alpha channel

Short description


  • The one-line elevator pitch – or “sell” - for the channel
  • No airdates or broadcast schedule information
  • 90 characters maximum
  • No HTML markup, links, or other styling
  • Limited to 90 characters, including spaces

Long description


  • Include keywords and pertinent vocabulary to enhance SEO
  • No airdates or broadcast schedule information
  • Avoid repeating program names
  • No HTML markup, links, or other styling
  • Limited to 400 characters, including spaces


  • The landing page for the channel, such as the homepage for a blog
  • Full URL, including "http://"

Content Channel Container Examples



Station channel


Station channel



California Report


Climate Watch

Logo image




Short description


Daily coverage of issues, events and policy unique to California’s diverse population.

Climate science and policy from a California perspective.

Long description


The California Report covers issues, trends, and public policy decisions affecting California and its diverse population. Public media from across to the state regularly contribute to perspectives on our diverse state. 

Climate Watch is a true multimedia endeavor, centered around a comprehensive Web climate portal, that provides a wealth of resources and a healthy discussion of climate change. You can listen for our regular radio features on The California Report and occasional Quest TV specials.



Requesting a New Content Channel

Currently, only PBS can create content channels.  If you identify the need for a new content channel, take the following steps:

  1. Gather the necessary assets as noted above;
  2. Clearly organize those assets in an Excel spreadsheet;
  3. Send the spreadsheet to Be sure to include the appropriate logos.


What types of content can I put into Merlin?

One goal of Merlin is communicate the value of your content. In keeping with the mission, brand, and public expectations of PBS, Merlin is a dynamic resource for finding public television's best content. It showcases your unique editorial works: original video, articles, blog posts and other rich web media.  Merlin is not intended to be a comprehensive index of pages on, station sites, ancillary "meta" pages, commercial or promotional messaging, or aggregated or licensed content.

Content entered into the Merlin database will be stored as "content objects" which will surface links and text about your content on and other applications pulling from the Merlin AP.


Recommended Content Types

These types of media represent the best of what public television presents online. They are engaging, informative, timely or timeless, and communicate the value of the system, its member stations, and producers while allowing access to the core of the system's content offering:

  • COVE powered video: Automatically added when published to COVE
  • Interactives: Flash games and diagrams, timelines, etc. Example
  • Photo galleries and essays:Example
  • Long-lead previews set with expiration: Video previews (not broadcast tune-in ads) and synopses, including from COVE
  • Value-added pages with video: Context should be provided on the page; no standalone videos
  • Feature blog posts: If in doubt, PBS can help you evaluate your blog submission
  • Behind-the-scenes: Features about creating films/content Example
  • Other rich Web content:  Articles, essays, biographies, etc. Example
  • User generated content: Sharing stories, uploading media, etc when contextualized/moderated by an editor and with expiration dates judiciously governed
  • Special event content landing pages: Twitter parties, promotional content, or value-added pages with an expiration date for when the event ends – whether for online and/or in-person events.