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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:

  1. Sesame Street (I was weaned on this)
  1. Electric Company (no more, sadly. But Morgan Freeman as the Easy Reader? That pinball game song?)
  1. Bill Moyers Journal
  1. NOW with Brancaccio
  1. NOVA
  1. Frontline
  1. NewsHour
  1. BBC World News
  1. DNA
  1. Great Performances
  1. History Project
  1. P.O.V.
  1. To the Contrary
  1. 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,


Originally posted to cruz on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:26 AM PST.


My Favorite PBS Show

13%12 votes
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1%1 votes
19%18 votes
12%11 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
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9%9 votes
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| 91 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and Flames (25+ / 0-)

    Tips because public broadcasting is essential.
    Flames because you love the blondes of FOX and want more.

    Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

    by cruz on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:27:23 AM PST

  •  WHOOAAA!! (10+ / 0-)

    I forgot something:

    Tavis Smiley.  Holy sh*t, I can't belive I forgot Tavis.  Tavis, if by some odd chance you're on here, my apologies.  Keep on rocking.

    Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

    by cruz on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 02:37:37 AM PST

    •  and in some places, Democracy Now! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Amy Goodman's demeanor puts me to sleep, but her programs counteract that.  They are superb, and she has great people on.

      I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

      by tle on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 07:28:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  DN! (0+ / 0-)

        is  the best thing on television/radio, I think.

        Rise like lions after slumber in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many - they are few.

        by cruz on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 08:52:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  PBS/NPR - the last bastion of journalistic (7+ / 0-)

    excellence in America.  And even that is slipping at times.  But I'd like to be optimistic.

  •  PBS Funding (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cfk, Cory Bantic, CJnyc, slowheels, cruz

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a private non profit corporation primarily funded by the Federal government and large foundations. CPB funds both PBS and NPR which replaced the prexisting NET under the Reagan Administration in the eighties.

    Under the administration of George W. Bush, the board has one more Republican than Democrat (with one independent member as well), and there have been complaints by people within PBS and NPR that the CPB is starting to push a conservative agenda[5], while board members counter that they are merely seeking balance.

    Polls of the PBS and NPR audiences in 2002 and 2003 indicated that few felt that the groups' news reports contained bias, and those that saw a slant were split as to which side they believed the reports favored. The President of the CPB, Patricia Harrison, is the former Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee; its chair is Cheryl Halpern, a Republican.

    The charge of a conservative agenda reached a head in 2005. The point man of the controversy, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, was the chair of the CPB board from September 2003 until September 2005. During his time as Chair, he drew the anger of PBS and NPR supporters by unilaterally commissioning a study of alleged bias of the PBS show, NOW with Bill Moyers, conducted by a conservative colleague, and by appointing two conservatives as CPB Ombudsmen.

    On November 3, 2005, Tomlinson resigned from the board in the face of allegations of scandal. A report of his tenure by the CPB Inspector General, Kenneth Konz, requested by House Democrats, prompted his resignation. On November 15, the report was made public. It found evidence that "the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) former Chairman violated statutory provisions and the Director’s Code of Ethics by dealing directly with one of the creators of a new public affairs program during negotiations with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the CPB over creating the show." It also "found evidence that suggests "political tests" were a major criteria used by the former Chairman in recruiting a President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for CPB, which violated statutory prohibitions against such practices".[6]

    NPR has a ratio of about 75% Conservative commentators to non political or liberal commentators. That's the direction Tomlinson was taking PBS. Imagine Cute kids programs like Sesame Street with a subtle change in emphasis.

    Imagine NOVA doing a program on global warming that focused on uncertainties about wheter or not it was a myth created by Al Gore and suggested money appropriated for its study could be better spent on studying sun spots. Imagine Frontline, or Bill Moyers under new management.

    The private contributors to CPB include the Schaife, Olin and Heritage foundations. The think tanks asked for regular commentary include the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, The Americal Enterprise Institute, The Project for a New American Century, the Hoover Institute etc;

    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Impeach, Incarcerate

    by rktect on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 03:23:13 AM PST

    •  That study of "liberal bias" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rktect, cfk, cruz

      When the results were finally leaked (over Tomlinson's objections), his "researchers" had listed Chuck Hagel and John McCain as two of the "liberal" guests on "NOW"

      To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

      by commonscribe on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:01:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite show on PBS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Actuallyit's NPR's All Things Considered but it could be any you listed and quite a few others no longer aired. I want to see the next Julia Childs for one instance.

    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind." - Hunter/Garcia

    by epcraig on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:07:04 AM PST

  •  I grew up watching (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sesame Street and Mr Rogers Neighborhood.  Emily my daughter loved Sesame Street and Arthur.  and barney.  and caillou.  Now, I may have wanted to scream after the millionth time of 'i love you, you love me', but I think that those shows helped emily in a way that she wouldn't get from a lot of other shows.

    Now, I will admit that my youngest daughter who is 2 and a half doesn't seem all that interested in sesame street or barney, but I believe that PBS remains important.  There are still people without cable, and for children's educational programming, PBS can't be beat.  Not to mention all the other educational shows.

    Growing up I could never have imagined enjoying educational shows as much as I do now, and I thought the shows like 1900 house and the one about the settlers was amazing.  It showed how  things were for people a long time ago.  

  •  If I had a TV (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it would probably be super-glued to PBS. (Except for nature shows — does PBS have any of those or are they all on specialized channels now?)

    And a better poll question for the NYT would be, "Are large corporate-friendly media outlets with a history of lying still necessary?"

  •  Reagan and the Thugs finally killed it. (0+ / 0-)

    There is no point anymore.

    Remember Kübler-Ross's Three Stages of Pledging ?

    1. ANGER
    1. DENIAL
    1. CABLE

    It's been too long since PBS had any value for it to continue.

    This all might be different in one of the PBS hubs,
    which are like country clubs compared to what most markets can afford to buy.

    No, PBS has been waterboarded in Grover Norquist's bathtub.
    And as it is today,
    it has no value.

    It's a simple thing to tell the truth always

    by slowheels on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 04:36:17 AM PST

  •  It's Essential (0+ / 0-)

    My favorite PBS shows are The McLaughlin Group and Mystery, especially when they show Inspector Lynley!  

  •  I believe the bigger question is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    should PBS be federally funded...not should it be discontinued...

    I am in a minority here as a long time supporter of PBS and NPR (NY Metro area) I believe that it is time for the Federal government to get out of the business of funding PBS and NPR...sure there is great programming, but we could have great programming if it was funded by individuals, foundations and corporations as addition, progressive states could choose to contribute to funding if they see that priority.

    So many Red states would not fund and many Blue states would fund...but that is the way it goes.

    I would do a 5 year phase out of all federal funding at 20% per year for the next 5 years and have the federal government provide a 100 year license agreement for the rights to broadcast for $1 per year (that would be the only remaining subsidy).  The 5 years would give PBS and NPR a chance to get alternative funding in place.  I would gladly up my donation by 100% for each to cover my portion of the difference.

    Also I think it is unfair for the government to support NPR and PBS at the expense of Air America Radio and other private ventures.

    I realize I am in the minority here...but I am a fiscal moderate and while I do believe it is a very worthwile investment it is not in my top 100 federal programs to fund and until we balance the budget it is horrible to pass along these subsidies to our children and grandchildren to pay off.

    Clinton - Obama '08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

    by dvogel001 on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:11:26 AM PST

  •  The old Newshour... (0+ / 0-)

    Before David Brooks...

    Clinton - Obama '08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

    by dvogel001 on Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 05:18:31 AM PST

  •  What would possess the NYT to word the question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    this way?

    It almost sounds like a push-poll question.

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