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Tue Oct 9, 2012, 08:51 AM

The Real Problem with PBS.

Every election season, republicans want to end federal funding for PBS and NPR. Democrats respond by defending PBS and NPR. This has occurred every time despite the benefits of public broadcasting. With this tug of war I have realized something: no mainstream politician has ever advocated or even suggested increasing funding for public broadcasting in this country. That is the real problem with PBS and NPR.

PBS and NPR have been practically underfunded for many years. As an end result it has increasingly resorted to creeping commercialism. From expanded sponsored messages right down to begathons for infomercials aimed at old people from folks like Wayne Dyer and Suze Orman. It has gotten so bad that MPT, WETA, and WHUT and many other PBS affiliates are practically unwatchable because they’re hopelessly dependent on these telethons. State funding cuts do not help either.

The other real problem is the demographics. When it comes to public broadcasting and commercial television there is one common demographic: upper-middle class people. They’re the ones who donate the most. Same for commercial television, they’re the ones with the most disposable income. Most of the programing and their offerings are aimed towards them. The other demographics PBS serves are old people, children under 12, and people who like 1970 British comedies and modern British dramas feature old wealthy people or police detectives. Yes, there are the other standard programming they offer but I can’t watch them, because every time I switch to PBS there’s a begathon.

Even for the niche programing some PBS affiliates offer, they shove them later in the night. (Not everyone has a DVR.) So yeah, if you’re over 12 there’s nothing for you in PBS. The worst thing is that there has been no true American drama that was produced by PBS since ever. Possibly in fear of commercial television networks complaining to Congress of undue regulation.

We already seen how educational channels such as Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and TLC (formally known as The Learning Channel)has devolved into reality TV channels with a weak theme since they focused on profit. If federal funding or any funding from the state level goes, they will be forced into accepting real commercials and we already know the eventual outcome when that happens.

The only way to end this constant tug of war is abolish PBS, NPR, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting completely. Replace it a new public broadcasting service that has almost total political independence of the federal government (like the British Broadcasting Corporation) and it’s funded by a guaranteed funding source directly from general revenue (like $100 per person) to be distributed between the national and state level public broadcasting stations. It will finally allow what public broadcasting in this country was not able to do for a long time since the enactment of the Public Broadcasting Act 1967: deliver educational, informational, and entertaining programs for everyone without commercial or political influence (and possibly revive the American broadcasting for the 21st century).

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Response to Jkid (Original post)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:00 AM

1. I love a good "we must destroy it to save it" proposition.




I don't understand where you will get the support for the new public broadcasting service when we can't get anyone to increase funding to the existing PBS.


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Response to aikoaiko (Reply #1)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:27 AM

6. I oppose PBS and NPR because it's been "commercially captured"

But I do support the general concept of public broadcasting. And more than ever since many of the educational cable channels now suck.

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Response to Jkid (Original post)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:03 AM

2. I disagree

You didn't mention the excellent Frontline series or Nova . The so-called begathons are about 4 times a year and they feature excellent musical offerings. But wait, I'm old and my interests don't count, nor does education count for my grandchildren. Guess only those between 18 and 49 should have a say.

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Response to jehop61 (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:11 AM

3. How can Nova be good when it's supported by the Koch Bros?

ahgggghhhhhhhh........Cognitive dissonance........

Actually, that isn't fair. I can't speak to NOVA anymore. I gave up on it in about 2004 when the jingoism of military technology became a repeating theme of the content.

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Response to jehop61 (Reply #2)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:26 AM

5. Sadly my affiliates (MPT, WETA, and WHUT) offer these telethons every weekend.

With weeklong telethons EVERY MONTH. I try to switch on to PBS everytime I hear something good but I get a telethon instead! Many of the musical offerings are the same ones from years ago. If they were really interested in getting more people to donate, why not pull something from their archives. PBS is sitting on years and year of archived programming.

I can get better public broadcasting programs from other countries online.

Besides, I'm not upper middle class or 35-45 (the demographic that PBS has the most.)

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Response to Jkid (Original post)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 09:17 AM

4. On The Media: Should Government Fund Public Broadcasting?

Should Government Fund Public Broadcasting?

Friday, October 05, 2012

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said in Wednesday's debate that, if elected, he'd end the use of taxpayer money to support public media. Should we? In 2010, Reason.com editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie told Brooke that yes, we should. On the other side, New Yorker editor Steve Coll told Bob why public radio should continue to receive some taxpayer support.

http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/oct/05/government_fund_public_broadcasting/

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Response to Jkid (Original post)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 11:32 AM

7. Abolish PBS?

I agree with almost everything jkid has posted; I have watched and listened to public media for many years as it has become more and more like commercial media. I do not know what to do but I do know that NO other TV program (of the hundreds now available) comes close to Frontline, Nova, Independent Lens, Nature, Democracy Now, BBC news, the Newshour, NPR, and our local programs. No wonder Romney and the Repubs hate them so much.

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Response to locks (Reply #7)

Tue Oct 9, 2012, 11:57 AM

8. That's the real reason why repubs hate public broadcasting

It teaches people to think and take real action on their lives. Commercial broadcasting want people to think of adverts and consumerism.

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