Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Friday, June 24, 2005
House Won't Cut Public Broadcasting Funds
Even Oscar the Grouch has to be happy about this news!
The 284-140 vote demonstrated the enduring political strength of public broadcasting,...
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:06 AM  
7 Editorial Opinions:
  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Neckbone said…

    See, I'm a big fan of PBS but as a taxpayer I have one gripe, and it's a biggun'. Go to any major retailer and check out the volume of PBS merchandising there (Sesame Street, etc.). Now, if the Children's Television Workshop is getting so much ching from the licensing, why do they need my tax dollars? We don't subsidize Scholastic Publishing, after all...

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Jen said…

    I don't think that they do get any licensing monies. As far as I know, CTW reaps all the rewards from Sesame Street. I think PBS only pays them to broadcast the shows. Should they try and restructure their contracts? Absolutely.

    Frankly, Halliburton doesn't need all our tax dollars, either, but we're putting out hand over fist for them. And I don't even get to see Grover frollicking atop an oil geiser.

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Neckbone said…

    I believe Halliburton isn't subsidized, but rather is a pay-for-service contractor put in by the Clinton administration.

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Steve said…

    Neckbone's right about the cross-subsidy issue. We've been agonising about that with the BBC for years (why should the BBC be allowed to advertise its own DVD box sets etc...) - the difference between public and private is that the revenues raised by those commercial activities don't go to stockholders, but are ploughed back into programming; particularly, I'm glad to say, news programming.

    (Lets see CBS hold a bake sale to pay for its Sydney bureau, for example...)

    But opponents of the BBC and its archaic and totally un-pragmatic form of funding (step forward R.Murdoch) have no need to worry... the BBC's current management appears intent on both dumbing down its content and cutting its editorial resources to the bone, so in a couple of years it'll be a shadow of its former, proud, Reithian self and ripe for privatisation...

    It comes down to whether or not a society believes in the concept of public broadcasting, for the good of that society as a whole. We might not always agree with the scheduling, but at least there's an element of accountability.

    Part of the BBC's problem - and less so, but equally troubling, with PBS - is that no-one seems to be able to define what "public service broadcasting" actually means any more, and - in a marketplace where non-terrestial channels outpull terrestial - make a case for why ordinary taxpayers should support it.

    sorry to go on so long....

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Broadsheet said…

    Steve: Thanks for the insight. Sadly, like most things over here lately, this has come down to a red/blue issue in the US. PBS and NPR are clearly viewed as "liberal media" (much the same way BBC is). As a gov't sponsored program, the right wingers are not inlcined to spend taxpayer money to support the liberal bias in media (their words not mine).

    I was listening to the NPR CEO Kevin Klose on the Diane Rehm show yesterday, and while he gave an excellent interview, he had a hard time dispelling the "liberal" label. He was very well prepapred with figures and statistics on their listener base and other demogrpahics, but the perception in the US is very much that NPR is liberally (e.g. left) biased and the ruling parties in the Congress and the Senate will threaten their support as a result.

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Jen said…

    Neckbone, I think you're confusing CTW with PBS, which are not the same.

    It is my understanding that PBS gives airtime to CTW and other media companies (like the Bob the Builder people), who obviously make a mint for themselves with their merchandising. However, PBS, as far as I know, does not make money off CTW's or Barney's merchandising.

    Now, should PBS try and get some of that merchandising loot from these companies? Absolutely. I'm not so sure that they can, however, because of their nonprofit status. At the very least, CTW and others should make large donations to PBS since they're making so very much money being on their network. Maybe they do; I don't know.

    Or, perhaps PBS shouldn't air any shows except ones that they directly own or produce. Unfortunately, then their fundraising will probably take a hit. It's a slippery slope, the intersection of private and public domain.

    You're right, of course, about Halliburton not being subsidized. It still doesn't let them off the hook for not letting Grover frollick in oil.

  • At June 24, 2005, Blogger Neckbone said…

    Linda- being a fan of both NPR and PBS I agree with you that it's a shame their funding is a political tool. Although I'm bitter they canned Bob Edwards and think Daniel Shorr should be boiled in his own pudding on the whole I'm a lifelong supporter of public broadcasting.

    Jen- you make a lot of sense- you're probably right, I'll bet CTW and PBS are separate entities with the latter paying the former a king's ransom for airtime. And I also defer to your point about Halliburton's gross treatment of Grover- if anyone needs a good oil frolic it's him. Poor Grover, he's always seemed a bit....conflicted.

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