Sign up FAST! Login

Why Save PBS?

Why Save PBS

Source: PBS

Stashed in: Science!, Awesome, America!, Republicans, KPop JPop, Haters!, The More You Know, Infomercials!

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Mitt Romney likes Big Bird but he wants to fire Big Bird.

170 million Americans disagree with him:

Less than 1% of Americans have taken an astronomy course.

3 million people travel the wonders of the universe each week with Nova.

Why save PBS? Because Big Bird has Oppa Romnam Style:

Oppa Gangnam Style

Obama Romney Sesame Street

Mitt, we'll give you a reason.

For every federal dollar invested in PBS stations, they are able to raise $6.

The more you know...


There is no explanation for how the $1 enables the $6. What if that's just a convenient story for flattering the funders? How about if instead, cutting the $1 would leave the $6, plus some more by fans of PBS now extra-motivated to support it?

Then, a total cutoff in federal funding would mean a less than 15% decrease in PBS budgets.

You're right, the total federal subsidy of PBS is $445 million annually, which accounts for 12% of their operating budget.

Cut the subsidy and likely PBS will deal with it by cutting costs -- by closing its broadcast in the markets that have the fewest donations. The most rural areas.

Gee Mitt, do you think we should save PBS?

Mitt and Pauly

What exactly is the function of a rubber duck?


I think there's a fundamental misunderstanding in this discussion. As I understand it, liberals generally feel that PBS is a cost-effective educational resource which helps provide an alternative to the excesses of commercial television -- which is the point of this whole chart. But as I understand it, conservatives often feel that EVEN IF THIS IS TRUE the government simply should not be in the media business. There is certainly an argument that if consumers really wanted Sesame Street, it could be shown on cable TV.

So I think the issue here isn't the AMOUNT of the support, but the PRINCIPLE of using tax dollars for things that could or should be provided by the free market. And when Romney mentioned Big Bird, he was part of a discussion that is quite widespread in part of the citizenry.

Yes, this is a central concern among PBS skeptics.

If having federally-funded TV stations is such a good idea, should we also launch federally-funded book publishers (other than gov documents), newspapers, movie studios, game developers?

And there is also, especially in 2012, practical doubts as to its unique value. Perhaps in the early days of TV, with few stations and 3 national mass-culture/commercial broadcast networks, a park-like reserve of alternative programming experiments in the public interest made sense. Now, PBS is a drop in the bucket of all video programming. Many of its traditional programming strengths are now done as well or better by other organizations *not* dependent on federal subsidies. (And, PBS's great franchises might just be crowding out the chance for even more independent programming aimed at the same audiences.)

So something that was always suspicious now looks completely superfluous. It's a small part of the budget, but in a time of budget pressure, lots of nostalgic totems like PBS will need to be trimmed.

And if PBS loses 14% of its overall budget, will the core benefits be in jeopardy? All direct federal funding for NPR got axed by meanie congress a while back. NPR seems as healthy as ever.

I believe in using tax dollars for radio free America, but not supporting a show that generates over 200 million a year.

At this point I'd rather cut it from the federal budget so it can no longer be used as a scapegoat.

All of the headline programming specifically mentioned -- NOVA, Sesame Street, Austin City Limits, the 'Martha Speaks' program/app -- would survive or thrive even without federal funding. (So mentioning them is a "Washington Monument Maneuver", pretending that the most-secure, most-loved, most-self-sufficient things will be the ones that must be cut, in order to mislead people about the effects of a funding cutback.)

The claim that the stations are 'non-commercial' is a stretch for anyone who's watched PBS in the last 10 years, with ever-longer promos for corporate sponsors. There are also the sometimes several-hour infomercial-like presentations from self-help authors and spiritualists, promoting their books and other offerings (often as part of pledge drive rewards). Apparently commerce from PBS friends isn't the bad 'commerce'.

So this is propaganda selectively engineered to mislead, coming from a tax-funded organization campaigning for more tax funding. Isn't that kind of a problem?

Correct, it's only people in certain areas who won't get PBS if funding is cut:

Cuts to PBS won’t kill off Sesame Street and other major programming. What will happen, realistically, is that public television stations would have to find alternate sources of funding. Larger markets, like the one I live in now, would likely survive. But chances are that those smaller markets, like the one I used to live in, would have to shut off the lights. That is, of course, the irony, since those smaller markets are the very ones that PBS was intended to serve when it was created.

You May Also Like: