Hollywood’s PBS station is retiring its title. KCET is going to drop its affiliation with PBS, while still maintaining non-profit status.
The word is, KCET received a huge endowment with the condition that none of the money go to the National PBS entity. Since PBS dues are based on a percentage of endowments, KCET was unable to raise money to pay the amount required. So, they have made the landmark decision to leave the PBS affiliation while retaining their non-profit status.
What this means for the Los Angeles television viewing audience is that KCET won’t have Sesame Street and other familiar programs. Instead, KCET will have to create their own programs to fill the schedule.
This could be exciting! Los Angeles is a magnet for all kinds of performance talent; KCET could have their pick of the crop. I’d love to see some locally based talent be put on the local non-profit channel. The L.A. Times reports that the leadership of the station is pretty stodgy and may not be up to the challenge. It remains to be seen what the station will be like in 6 months.
But this raises an important question. PBS was founded when there were only 3 TV stations available. The government made the effort to have an educational network and put aside some federal money for that purpose. The states followed suit and also ponied up. According to the experts at Wikipedia, 40-60% of financial support for Corporation of Public Broadcasting comes from Federal and State taxes.
This is the question: why do we have so much government investment in PBS?
The recent controversy raised this week by Juan Williams' fallout with NPR further highlights this concern. NPR and PBS have been seen as exclusive clubs of liberal-based journalists. The Tea Party movement rails against taxes, and this group is largely conservative. The tax munching and liberally oriented national radio and broadcast network could be a target for examination and cost-cutting.
If this is a national and citizen-supported media outlet, why is there such a uniformity of opinion? Even the right-wing FOX news calls upon liberal viewpoints to give a different perspective. I listen to NPR far more often than I watch PBS, and I know that the conservative voices heard on their signal are far fewer than the number of conservative-identified Americans.