Friday, June 24, 2005

PBS is not supposed to be Concerned about Profit

From an article I read today, after hearing our signatures were able to pressure the House to go from a cut of $200 million to $100 million:

"These stations are fat and happy. They're sitting on millions, if not billions of dollars, in property and equipment and very large salaries. These people are not going anywhere," said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group.

Graham says broadcasters could easily make up the money with alternative sources of revenue. For example, he said, the producers of PBS' children's programs could give to public broadcasting a share of the robust profits they reap from merchandise the toys, the videos, the books associated with the shows.

Wrong, wrong wrong. PBS is supposed to be non-commercial. If it's commercial, then it has an interest bias for itself, not for the people, not for education, not for informing Americans in an unbiased way. That would mean instead, a focus on getting more money. What will reach millions of people, what will be cheaper to producer. The same focus that commercial TV has. The same reason we have lousy, bottom-line focused entertainment now because the focus of the huge media giants is more money now, not "let's make great TV."

So when Media Research Center folks, Newt Gingrich, and Conservative Republicans cry "Hey, look! They're making all this money on their own!", they are forgetting the entire purpose of PBS. NOT to make money. That's for-profit, business methodology. PBS has a different mission that needs Federal funding, it needs donations, and if necessary, limited commercial revenue. I say limited because if it depends on corporate sponsors (with pro-business goals), their own goals are compromised. If survival and fundraising is its focus, then shows like Sesame Street and Bill Moyers have to change themselves to be cheaper, appeal to broader audiences, and all the things that ruin commercial media as the entities that make them get bigger and bigger.

This is already happening. The fact is, these folks dislike the content and want it gone. They know it can't really survive without changing itself. Making PBS and the CPB into just another media company will destroy it.


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posted by Brian at 7:56 PM


Blogger Brian said...

Interesting. Some libertarians do not want the government (i.e. taxpayers) to pay for PBS either. The Free Market should allow PBS to survive. But again, no...

June 27, 2005  

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