See? It's like I said--if you want to get people's attention, use Muppets!
Give Him The Big Bird!
See? It's like I said--if you want to get people's attention, use Muppets!
PBS actually provides a major service. Back in the 1940s, when the government was hashing out television broadcast rules and whatnot, they recognized (A) the need for unbiased news reporting and (B) the difficulty of getting unbiased news when corporations own the broadcasters. Disney owns CBS, for instance, hence CBS can't really be trusted to report accurately on, say, Disney's operations in support of the Viet Cong, or whatever. (I just made that up, by the way, it's not true).
Thus the feds came up with PBS. It also was intended to offer educational programming and stuff that was good for the nation, but not commercially viable. Fine arts, esoteric debate, etc.
Getting rid of it is a mistake, regardless of which party does it.
1) If allowed, Sesame Street and it's characters are marketable enough to fund the whole channel by itself. Even if not, one... ONE :60 spot per PBS show could fund the whole thing.
2)It is not a source of unbiased news. It has leaned left as long as I can remember. It goes deeper, yes. But not unbiased in the least. NPR (PBS's radio sister)... have you listened to "All Things Considered" lately? And where's the balance to Garrison Keilor? ( A fine storyteller, but as a pundit-- he's a fine storyteller).
PBS(NPR) can more accurately be characterized as a clearing house for views that cannot be self supporting and those that don't want to be....
3)As you are fond of saying, "Technology drives culture". Back when PBS was founded, CATV was in it's infancy. Now there are tons and tons of channels that all service the markets that PBS was founded to serve--- and they are all for profit, and most are profitable. We now live in an age where even the most obscure niche is served, multiple ways. PBS has outlived it's usefulness.
I'm sorry, PBS still has the only really watchable shows on TV. The vast majority of the cable offerings are mindless, sensationalist drek appealing to the least common denominator or people who are too poor to afford computers and DVD players.
And NPR isn't nearly as bad as you think it is; it depends on the individual affiliate station. There is a vast amount of programming running the gamut of the political spectrum, and the affiliates choose which programs to buy. Sometimes those choices are based on how much the programs cost.
NPR is worthwhile for Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!, and the fact that the affiliates usually play classical music.
>>1) If allowed, Sesame Street and it's characters are marketable enough to fund the whole channel by itself. Even if not, one... ONE :60 spot per PBS show could fund the whole thing.<<<
So what's your point? Sesame Street is a prime example of a television show that would never exist on a commercial network for the same reason Dr. Who would never have survived a season in the US. There are shows who are/can/should be institutions, but they have to grow to get to that point, and on a purely Ayn Rand-driven station, that's simply not going to happen. In fact, on a purely Ayn Rand-driven network, you're pretty much gonna' get porn 24/7, with occasional explosions and car chases, because honestly, that's what people mostly like. FOX is the most Ayn Randian network, really.
>>2)It is not a source of unbiased news. It has leaned left as long as I can remember. It goes deeper, yes. But not unbiased in the least. NPR (PBS's radio sister)... have you listened to "All Things Considered" lately?<<<
The idea that non-corporate news would be unbiased was, I agree, naive. It was the 1940s, and news agencies were more discrete, but we all know that nonbiased anything is a myth. I agree it skews left, and I agree that's troublesome inasmuch as it's as close to an 'official news agency' as the US has ever had. BUT: the fact remains that the American public has a right to information that is not tied to a corporate sponsor, since that tends to skew certain types of stories unacceptably. How long was it before Fox News started covering the Fox News Scandal? Like a week after the story broke everywhere else?
So while it skews left, this is a known and fairly transparent quantity, and can be easily compensated for by any viewers on our side, just like we do when we watch the BBC news. The important service here is that it's providing news free of a PARTICULAR KIND of bias, and that's a good thing.
>>PBS(NPR) can more accurately be characterized as a clearing house for views that cannot be self supporting and those that don't want to be....<<
NPR is under the same umbrella, but honestly that's a different situation, and it's playing to a largely different audience. I listen to NPR on long car trips, and I generally find it entertaining, but it wears its bleeding heart on its sleeve without even the pretense of counterpoint. And now that Klick and Klack are retiring, well, I think there is a NEED for something LIKE NPR, I'm just not at all convinced that NPR is the best thing to fill that need.
>>3)As you are fond of saying, "Technology drives culture". Back when PBS was founded, CATV was in it's infancy.<<<
It didn't even exist.
>>Now there are tons and tons of channels that all service the markets that PBS was founded to serve--- and they are all for profit, and most are profitable. We now live in an age where even the most obscure niche is served, multiple ways. PBS has outlived it's usefulness.<<
I disagree. Look at The Discovery Channel, and The Science Channel. Remember how there were a flurry of "Scientific Documentaries" and crap about "The Crystal Skulls" when "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull" was soon to hit theaters? And not a one of them mentioned the well-known fact that the skulls were made in Germany in the mid-19th century? Yeah, that's a real documentary. It's just shilling for the movie, masquerading as education.
And is Shark Week *REALLY* the equivalent of Nova?
Nova alone justifies PBS existence. I have seen them utterly and without reservation take apart horses__t claims about science, history, whatnot. This is something TDC, TLC, TSC and the rest are very reticent to do, or simply will not do if the nonsense happens to be popular.
Look, every experiment needs a control group. PBS is that for broadcasting.
Also, commercial viability *does* play a part in their programming, just in a more circuitous route.
But the fact is that this is all smoke and mirrors. The total budget of PBS is between $500 and $600 million a year. The Federal Government spends $405 MILLION dollars EVERY HOUR! You want to pull the 'big wasters' like PBS? That's going to extend the federal budget by, what, 90 minutes over the course of a year?
This is a drop in the bucket. It costs nothing, it provides some needed services, it's effective, and pulling the plug would serve no useful purpose.
So can we find a *real* issue to rankle about? Or do we have to keep playing predictably by the Democrat's playbook?
Something like PBS but NOT PBS as it exists today needs to continue.
HOWEVER- I'd propose a slightly different model that would drastically reduce the governmental role.
The Government should set up a special class of Non Profit corporations (similar to a 401c) for cable channels, allowing for direct support (as opposed to commercial support)and if a channel meets certain guidelines, it would be a 'must carry' on all cable systems. (It's not that Cable companies are hurting for channel space...and part of the guidelines would be adequate capitalization to cover carry costs)
No government funding. No chasing trends... (other than at pledge drives...) The only problem here would be the initial proliferation of Non Profit channels, but as they inevitably start falling by the wayside, only the half dozen or so best ones will remain.
Oh. CATV started in either 1923 or 1948, depending on your definition. 1948 was when the first TV Community Antenna system began operation in America, so we'll use that one. My previous statement stands. CATV was in it's infancy when PBS started.
I think that the function of PBS and it's insulation from direct market forces is important, but there are other ways to do thisthat don't involve direct funding from the taxpayers. (Yes, all not for profit corporations get indirect benefits from taxpayers, but I think in this case, that's acceptable).
Yes, important... so let's find a way to duplicate it's function that removes it as a political football.
>>Yes, important... so let's find a way to duplicate it's function that removes it as a political football.<<
Well there you go, see how easy that was? We agree broadly enough that we agree. (I was using the 1948 date, BTW. I was unaware Cable existed as anything beyond a local phenomenon in those days) We differ only on means.
If it's a political football at all, it's a pretty tiny one. More like a half a ping-pong ball. I reiterate that their full annual budget comes to about 90 MINUTES worth of the federal budget. The big ticket items are ones that cant' be cut, alas.
>>When I was much younger, I worked at a public-access TV station. In those days there was a requirement for cable TV providers to carry a certain amount of public-access TV shows, and so a lot of pretty odd and inevitably boring programming got produced in our studios.<<
I did that too! That was immediately where my head went when R2 said what he said.
>>The big ticket items are ones that cant' be cut, alas.<<
What do you consider to be the "big ticket" items?
There are certain things the government has no choice but to spend money on, which is why taxes are necessary. But because that's true, we need to be EXTREMELY picky on what we spend our public funds on, and we aren't doing that. Taxes are a necessary evil, but the goal should be to keep taxes as low as possible, for EVERYONE, not to spend what we want and just increase taxes to cover it. That's the recipe for the fiscal cliff we're facing now
It's not even milirary spending or infrastructure spending ot paying to repair the damages from natural disasters.
The main problem with spending in our government is the sheer volume of bureaucrats all drawing salaries, pensions, and benefits.