This is a troubling premise for a question. On this morning's New York Times, there is a small headline for their Readers' Comments section:
"The Future of PBS." Below that, it reads "Do you think PBS is still necessary?"
"Jesus," I thought. "That's a terrifying question."
(more on the flip)
I cannot imagine a world without PBS. It's easily 60% of my television viewing.
Let's run down the list:
- Sesame Street (I was weaned on this)
- Electric Company (no more, sadly. But Morgan Freeman as the Easy Reader? That pinball game song?)
- Bill Moyers Journal
- NOW with Brancaccio
- BBC World News
- Great Performances
- History Project
- To the Contrary
- F*ckin' amazing documentaries (I don't think that's the actual name)
And that's barely a fraction of what is available. Is it still necessary? I wouldn't watch TV if I didn't have it. Here's what they say in the lead in:
These days there are many high-minded options for viewers like you.
Do you think PBS is still necessary?
What a ridiculous question. Here's my comment in the forum:
Of course. Public broadcasting is needed now more than ever. Amazing documentaries, Nova, Frontline, NOW with Brancaccio, Bill Moyers, To the Contrary . . . there's simply nothing like PBS.
There are many "high-minded options" for viewers like me? What? I can't afford anything beyond basic cable, and the vast majority of what I have involves game shows or "reality" shows where young women auction themselves off. High-minded indeed. As for news, C-Span is terrific, but cable news is totally lacking in substance. Most cable news programs cover the current election like the cast of Mean Girls on Red Bull doing color commentary for the Super Bowl.
The question isn't whether we still need PBS, but why we can't get more of it. Let's work on PBS II and PBS III.
Here's the link: Is PBS Still Necessary?
I urge all of you to go there and defend PBS. Keep in mind, the U.S. is unique compared to other industrial democracies in that our media is overwhelmingly commercial. Interestingly, democracies with media systems lacking in public broadcasting (like ours), have less press freedom than democracies with healthy public broadcasting. Public broadcasting isn't just good viewing - it is essential to a free press and a healthy democracy.
We don't need less PBS, we need more and better PBS.
Help get the word out, go post your comments on the forum, and use the comment thread here to post your favorite PBS shows/moments or discuss the need for non-commercial media. Any other good resources for non-commercial media you can list would be wonderful.
Peace and Solidarity,