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Maybe Hollywood Doesn’t Need PBS Anymore

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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.


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  • Murphy

    Jon, I wasn’t really thinking of the news reporting. I don’t have an opinion about that side of NPR.

    Although, handyguy has a point. When I, or anyone, hear reporting that agrees with conclusions I already hold, the reporting doesn’t sound a discordant note. Therefore, it sounds “unbiased.” I have seen this principle work from all political perspectives. I don’t consider it dumb or paranoid, just human nature.

    I was thinking of NPRs shows, such as: “Fresh Air”, “Prairie Home Companion”, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”, “This American Life,” etc.

    Each of those shows have happily mocked non-lefty ideas and leaders. A lot of times, they are pretty funny. That’s all fine. But I have never heard an NPR show that holds a right-leaning perspective. It makes me think that a creative person with a right-wing perspective would be unwelcome on an NPR station. If that’s the case, I object.

    There are a few shows i know of that remain apolitical:
    Car Talk
    The Splendid Table

    There may be more. But in my NPR browsing, I’ve never encountered a show that is right leaning. I’d love to hear of one, if the Blogcritics readers can point one out.

    If NPR is a government-supported institution, it should be open to the perspectives of Americans from different political perspectives.

  • For some conservatives,
    “unbiased” = “leans conservative”
    “doesn’t lean conservative” = “left-wing bias”

    This dumb paranoia-based formulation has been around for years, and even with the ascendance of Fox and Beck and Limbaugh, it remains a given for many conservatives.

  • I listen to NPR all the time and I often find it infuriating how they bend over backwards to interview and feature Republicans and other conservatives AT THE EXPENSE OF giving time for Democrats and the Left to make their points. I guess it’s all in the biases you bring to things – but it’s hard to listen to a political story on NPR without hearing plenty from the Right.

  • This a bit of a jumbled mess. By the end of the article it’s as if the author forgot the title because she’s writing about a completely different topic.

    “KCET will have to create their own programs to fill the schedule.”

    Not entirely. They can also buy programs created by others like any other channel.

    “PBS was founded when there were only [three] TV stations available.”

    You mean networks, right? There were local TV stations all over the country in 1970.

    “NPR and PBS have been seen as exclusive clubs of liberal-based journalists.”

    I don’t listen to NPR but apparently some people have never watched or heard of Firing Line, The Newshour in its various incarnations, Journal Editorial Report, Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered, McLaughlin Group, One on One Peggy Noonan on Values, Ben Wattenberg’s Think Tank, and numerous business/Wall St-related programs