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Now that the emotions of the election have passed, I'd like to know what the case for public funding for PBS is. I spent 9 years working for WGBH, which is Boston's PBS station. My wife works for a company that provides premiums for the PBS station fund drives, so for my personal situation it's in our best interest to see PBS remain healthy. I also know that PBS makes up less than one percent of the budget and I am by no means suggesting this is going to fix our spending problems. What I am looking for is justification for why we should continue to fund it.

PBS receives about 8 to 10 percent of their funding from the Federal government. Years ago, PBS had a unique niche. If you wanted to learn about French cooking or fixing up an old house, you watched PBS. If you were a fan of science or educational children's programming, you watched PBS. Today, the TV landscape has changed. There are cooking channels, science channels, news channels. There are channels dedicated to children's programming. The niche seems to be gone.

Well you say, what about my favorite programs such as Sesame Street and Nova? WGBH used to produce This Old House and New Yankee Workshop. Those productions were sold to Time Warner and they're still on the air. Sesame Street is actually produced by a separate non-profit. If you like BBC shows, I'm sure they could find a different venue for their shows if PBS ever went away. So, what's the case to fund PBS with our tax dollars?


Grape
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If PBS broadcasting is so valuable to the public, the public will step up through their contributions. If not, it goes bye bye. And someone else will find a formula that works in this space.
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If you were a fan of science or educational children's programming, you watched PBS. Today, the TV landscape has changed. There are cooking channels, science channels, news channels. There are channels dedicated to children's programming. The niche seems to be gone.


Because The History Channel gives us Ice Road Truckers instead of Ken Burns' Civil War.
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Because The History Channel gives us Ice Road Truckers instead of Ken Burns' Civil War.

That gets back to my point about the programming and how it can carry on. If there's a demand for it, someone will pick it up. Ken Burns does not work for PBS. He produces shows and sells them to PBS.


Grape
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If there's a demand for it, someone will pick it up

There are a lot of things that are worthwhile even if they don't generate profit.
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"There are a lot of things that are worthwhile even if they don't generate profit. "

If there isn't the demand for it then it has no reason for
existing.
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There are a lot of things that are worthwhile even if they don't generate profit.

Okay, so if a show garners so little interest that one of the 100 plus channels won't air it, but to those few who will watch it find it worthwhile, does that justify government funding?


Grape
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Okay, so if a show garners so little interest that one of the 100 plus channels won't air it, but to those few who will watch it find it worthwhile, does that justify government funding?


It might. Government spending can't just be a popularity contest.
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"It might. Government spending can't just be a popularity contest. "

Yep, that is why dims favor dictators.
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It might. Government spending can't just be a popularity contest.

Okay, but that gets me back to my original question. What is the justification for funding PBS? Keep in mind that PBS may very well carry on without it. Does anyone have a strong case for why we should spend our tax dollars on this?


Grape
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Does anyone have a strong case for why we should spend our tax dollars on this?

I just made a strong case.
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"I just made a strong case. "

No, you didn't.
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I just made a strong case.

You made a comment regarding the History Channel and that spending can't be a popularity contest. If you were holding the purse strings, would that be good enough for you to fork over the money? If PBS didn't exist, would someone pick up Ken Burn's Civil War documentary? Probably. If funding gets cut off from PBS, would the find a way to make up the 8 to 10 percent that they're now missing? Probably. It might even entail commercials which they're so close to showing now anyway. What is the public getting for their dollar? There has to be a stronger argument for.


Grape
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If you were holding the purse strings, would that be good enough for you to fork over the money?

Yes.
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If you were holding the purse strings, would that be good enough for you to fork over the money?

_______

Yes.


Will you adopt me??? :-) I was looking to be sold by fans of PBS. You didn't exactly offer a full throated endorsement of PBS and why it needs public funding.


Grape
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Did some looking and this article makes a nice arguement in favor of PBS.

http://www.themillions.com/2012/10/big-bird-is-history-why-w...
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Last week, a friend of mine told me he never understood why the government funded PBS in the first place. Sesame Street is marketable and could be bought out by Disney or Nickelodeon in a second. The same goes for all of PBS’s best shows. So why should taxpayers fund PBS?

I don't remember talking to this person... :-) This is more of the type of argument I was looking for.

It wants independence. No other station would offer CTW a home without strings attached. PBS’s lack of economic motives was imperative. PBS offers a home to strange shows that just want to do something positive.

It certainly can be argued that profits could influence and change the program and remove that level of independence. There have been some other nice innovations that came from PBS and WGBH in particular. WGBH pioneered closed captioning, descriptive video service, as well as rear screen captioning for movie theaters. They've done a lot of work for accessibility for the sight and hearing impaired.


Grape
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Because The History Channel gives us Ice Road Truckers instead of Ken Burns' Civil War.

Or Ken Burns' Dust Bowl which I just watched and loved.
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1) Most of the funding is not to PBS but to local statiosn, esp. in smaller media.

2) Not everyone has cable. The local channels supported are broadcast, not cable or satellite commercial distributors.

3) The red states would love to shut down the broadcast PBS stations and limit listeners to FOX News. The corps will love to pay for limited. filtered 'facts' to the captive community. Part of the on going arguments (even on these boards) is based on different concepts of 'truth'. Obama had some whoppers, but corrected when confronted, but Mitts would not be bothered with fact checking.

o R
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1.) Many of the great artists we admire today died in poverty and were rejected by their generation. This includes greats such as Charlie Parker, Mozart, Schubert, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and many, many, many others who all struggled for survival throughout their artistic careers. Those nobody’s we promote today may be hailed as geniuses in the generations that follow us. Time rather than money and instant popularity will separate the wheat from the chaff.

2.) People generally are resistant to that which they disagree with. There needs to be a medium where thoughts that go against the public grain can be aired. This is the same rationale that lies beneath the concept of tenure for university professors.

3.) This is a subjective reason, but many, including myself, believe that quality art should not be restricted to those who can pay for it. This is the rational behind public libraries, art galleries and museums.

Thanks

Paul
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1) Most of the funding is not to PBS but to local statiosn, esp. in smaller media.

The funding actually goes to CPB and they give it to the stations. WGBH is a fairly large station and they receive money as well as the smaller stations. WGBH and NH PTV just entered into a collaboration since NH PTV has lost much of its funding. I think you'll see more of this consolidation moving forward.


Grape
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1) Most of the funding is not to PBS but to local statiosn, esp. in smaller media.

This is fundamentally why.

Why can't we have a small amount media that is chartered not to make money, but instead to be chartered to in the best interests of the nation?

Sometimes, for a second, I wonder if we should cut off public funding to PBS/NPR, because then they can survive on their own and we wouldn't have to worry about all of the political pressure on the public broadcasting system. But after that one second, I realize that I still want that funding (even if it is so small that it is effectively symbolic) because the funding is what makes PBS/NPR tied to the benefit of the nation and not just to the benefit of its private benefactors and underwriters.

Also, remember that all of these niche channels are generally only on cable. And not everyone has cable. If I'm a poor kid, in a family that can't afford cable, is it in the nation's interest that I don't have access to educational TV? History? Culture?

Plus, the bottom line is that public TV and radio is still putting out some of the highest quality programming out there. If it isn't broken, why fix it?

--CH
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You made a comment regarding the History Channel and that spending can't be a popularity contest. If you were holding the purse strings, would that be good enough for you to fork over the money?

Not if my job was solely predicated on achieving ratings for advertisers, which, it should come as no surprise, is how commercial cable channels work. The number of channels which started out in a nice niche, and which have drifted - or changed completely - is legion. History no longer has much history, it's mostly AxMen and Cajun Pawn Stars and such. The Learning Channel is nothing about Learning, it's Jon & Kate Plus Eight wannabes and fat Cajun kids or something. MTV doesn't offer music, it's dysfunctional women in Jersey. The Weather Channel is all entertainment shows at night. You can get the weather if you're willing to wait through enough tornado videos from 5 years ago. Headline News doesn't do headlines anymore either, it's "Forensic Files" retitled and Nancy Grace unbridled, and little of it is "news."

And, of course, Fox News, by their own admission, is mostly "entertainment." HBO isn't much "Box Office" these days because it's largely original programming, and Country Music Television runs movies instead of country music. Arts & Entertainment? Are you kidding? What arts, anywhere? Opera? Symphony? Chorale? Even once a year? Speaking of which, Bravo!, which began as an arts channel has morphed into "Reality!" (Of the worst kind), and the Biography Channel now barely offers biographies about 10% of the time. The biggest successes for American Movie Classics is with original programming like 'Mad Men'. Movies (no) classics (no). You think they're going to pick up Lawrence Welk or other shows for 80-year olds?

More? CourtTV doesn't do legal anymore, it's all reality all the time. CNBC is more concerned with guffaws and chuckles than doing any hard hitting interviews with CEO's abusing their stockholders. Wouldn't want to create waves, especially with the corporate set.

No, I think there ought to be at least ONE channel that doesn't have "lowest common denominator" ratings as the only important metric. There are "minority" audiences to be served, and I don't mean "people of color." Yes, Ken Burns might find a home now (not sure, but possible), but who would have green lighted the first, with a pitch that went "it's history without video, just old black&white slides and narration"?

PBS costs you about $1.50 a year. Is that so much to ask to provide information unbiased by the needs of McDonald's and WalMart to an increasingly illiterate and poorly served nation? If not, heck, let's start having school textbooks vetted by our corporate overlords. They already have control of the microphone everywhere else.
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Arts & Entertainment? Are you kidding? What arts, anywhere? Opera? Symphony? Chorale? Even once a year?

I remember the old A&E network. I got my first home computer in 1990 or 91 (a Gateway) and I signed up for AOL. I remember particularly that there was an A&E message board. People particularly raved about the Sunday morning programming which was several hours of what was happening in dance, theater, orchestras, recitals all over the country. People who had never seen a ballet were being introduced to tutus and arias. And they liked it.

A&E made LOTS of money. But they realized (probably hired a half dozen MBAs) that they could make MORE money on trash. So now they do obnoxious guys fighting over storage lockers, other obnoxious folks fighting over parking spaces, reruns of crime shows and worse.

PBS is running a multi-hour program on the Dust Bowl these days. Try to get that on Bravo or the Food Network.

I have big problems with Downton Abbey but it's a helluva lot better than anything else on cable or broadcast TV. And it's a blockbuster. But it's not enough of a blockbuster (or cheap enough) for cable channels.

Any of you guys want me to pay for your share of PBS I'll be happy to do so. But only if you pay my "share" of the defense budget.

It's funny how the righties always get their panties in a knot over the smallest issue they can find.
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The righties hate PBS because it is a light in a very dark tunnel being walled up by the plutocrats. It has nothing to do with the money.
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A&E made LOTS of money. But they realized (probably hired a half dozen MBAs) that they could make MORE money on trash. So now they do obnoxious guys fighting over storage lockers, other obnoxious folks fighting over parking spaces, reruns of crime shows and worse.



You forgot the redneck duck calling dufuses and the redneck survivor thingy. Not to mention the highly erudite swamp people or whatever they are.

Then there are the programs where supposedly educated people wander around with flashlights in the dark, whispering, looking for "ghosts."


I have big problems with Downton Abbey


What's wrong with Downton Abbey?

One of my faves is Doc Martin.
Currently in its last season of production, I believe.
Too bad, that. But nothing lasts forever. Especially the good stuff.

It's the Storage Wars stuff that goes on forever so we can watch puffed up post-p|ssing people bid insane prices for and gleefully go through the contents of lockers which represent the misery and loss of unfortunate others.

Sigh.

AM
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I have big problems with Downton Abbey but it's a helluva lot better than anything else on cable or broadcast TV. And it's a blockbuster.

I saw one episode and couldn't see what the draw is. I much prefer Doc Martin. It is getting a lot of attention in the PBS community though.

It's funny how the righties always get their panties in a knot over the smallest issue they can find.

FoolishWaldo, the point of the post was to create a discussion around why we are funding it. I made it very clear that I was under no illusions defunding PBS would somehow cure our budget woes. Given the change in the marketplace that has occurred with the advent of cable and then digital, I was interested in hearing the justification for why we should or should not continue funding.


Grape
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There are cooking channels, science channels, news channels.

On cable, available only to those who can afford cable. For the rest of us, there's PBS, which has some of the best cooking, science, and news shows.

Even though I subscribe to cable, PBS is by far my most watched channel, TCM being in second place for classic movies. I don't get upset if I miss an episode of Bones or Castle (I can always watch it online). But I do feel distressed when I miss an episode of Masterpiece, Mystery, Great Performances, American Masters, Nova, Frontline, Independent Lens, Carolina Stories...and no news show anywhere compares favorably to the MacNeil-Lehrer Report (er, the NewsHour nowadays). Not to mention the in-depth coverage on Frontline.
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Ken Burns does not work for PBS. He produces shows and sells them to PBS.

Actually, he has a deal to produce solely for PBS. I saw an interview with him last week when I watched The Dust Bowl on PBS. He says working for PBS means nobody looking over his shoulder to criticize his point of view--something that commercial channels always do. He's happy to make less money and get less interference.
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But I do feel distressed when I miss an episode of Masterpiece, Mystery, Great Performances, American Masters, Nova, Frontline, Independent Lens, Carolina Stories...

DVR or go here:

http://video.pbs.org/


Grape
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If there's a demand for it, someone will pick it up.

Unfortunately, demand is greatest for consumerist crap. PBS airs programming that defies that unfortunate trend.

If demand is the only criteria, we'd all eat nothing but fat salt and sugar.
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extreme right winger: 'If there isn't the demand for it then it has no reason for existing.'

Unfortunately, that right there is the mindset that is sinking the USA. Unfortunately, corporations and advertising companies have been supremely effective in manipulating the public such that the demand is greatest for junkfood and mindless entertainment.

That mindset is the road to mediocrity and idiocracy.
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Does anyone have a strong case for why we should spend our tax dollars on this?

Consider PBS to be an important public service; a finger in the dike of mediocrity.

The government funds and mandates all kinds of public service broadcasting to inform and educate the public ... especially when the subject matter is non-consumer oriented and thusl of little or no value to a specific product seller.... maybe even diametrically opposed to a product seller.
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Unfortunately, that right there is the mindset that is sinking the USA. Unfortunately, corporations and advertising companies have been supremely effective in manipulating the public such that the demand is greatest for junkfood and mindless entertainment.

That mindset is the road to mediocrity and idiocracy.


Demand drives PBS stations as well. Ever wonder why there are so many Doo Wop pledge shows? When pledge starts they have a series of shows that they have rights to air and they match up premiums (thank you gifts) to those shows. The quickly determine which of those is pulling in money and air them over and over again. Even with regular programming they watch the ratings. If a program doesn't hold up, they'll replace it with something else.


Grape
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Does anyone have a strong case for why we should spend our tax dollars on this?

PBS is largely educational. Much of the programming is made in conjunction with educational institutions.

I know some extremists feel education is not the responsibility of government, but again, that's the mindset of a dismal minority that doesn't understand the vital role and importance of public education to this nation.

Greatest demand, ratings, is the primary criteria for broadcasting.

That's why History channel is dumbing down it's programming to mind-numbing levels, cooking shows are dumbing down to cupcake wars, arts channels haveregressed to 'say yes to the dress.'

We desperately need to turn around the junk food mentality in broadcasting and eating.

Give the hamsters what they want? We're sunk.
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So has anyone made the case for continued government funding of PBS? So far there's a lot of "I want its"...meaning those who want it should pay for it.
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I have big problems with Downton Abbey but it's a helluva lot better than anything else on cable or broadcast TV. And it's a blockbuster.

I saw one episode and couldn't see what the draw is. I much prefer Doc Martin. It is getting a lot of attention in the PBS community though.

It's getting a lot of attention in the Emmy Awards community too.

FoolishWaldo, the point of the post was to create a discussion around why we are funding it. I made it very clear that I was under no illusions defunding PBS would somehow cure our budget woes. Given the change in the marketplace that has occurred with the advent of cable and then digital, I was interested in hearing the justification for why we should or should not continue funding.


Your motivation in the OP was/is clear and I have no argument with it. I responded to Goofy's mention of A&E. De-funding PBS is a continuing issue on this board and in the congress, far beyond this thread.

I'm surprised that you're surprised that a thread takes unexpected turns.

My remark about "panties in a knot" was not directed at you. I'm surprised you didn't recognize that. There are some few knotted panties in this as-of-now 36 post thread but the issue in general is rife with knotted panties.
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Demand drives PBS stations as well.

Not to the extent that it does in commercial television... not by a longshot.

Ever wonder why there are so many Doo Wop pledge shows?

No. Not for a second. They target disposable income. Old folks have the wealth.

Grammy and Gramps have more disposable income than little jimmy and jane. Grammy and Gramps want a channel to exist that will provide quality programming to benefit their children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.
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Your motivation in the OP was/is clear and I have no argument with it. I responded to Goofy's mention of A&E. De-funding PBS is a continuing issue on this board and in the congress, far beyond this thread.

I'm surprised that you're surprised that a thread takes unexpected turns.

My remark about "panties in a knot" was not directed at you. I'm surprised you didn't recognize that. There are some few knotted panties in this as-of-now 36 post thread but the issue in general is rife with knotted panties.


I'm really just trying to keep it to a dialogue without the inevitable mud slinging from both sides. I just don't want it to devolve into that.

It never hurts to re-examine an issue. You can easily fall into the "that's how we always do it" trap.


Grape
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Not to the extent that it does in commercial television... not by a longshot.

I've seen productions get shut down because they didn't pull high enough ratings. Ratings matter, even in PBS.

No. Not for a second. They target disposable income. Old folks have the wealth.

They absolutely target the older demographic (kids grown) for their pledge events, but it's also highly driven by how popular a show is. In general, music shows sell. I spent 9 years at WGBH and my wife 12. My wife worked as a marketing director in fundraising.


Grape
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Grape: "Okay, but that gets me back to my original question. What is the justification for funding PBS? Keep in mind that PBS may very well carry on without it. Does anyone have a strong case for why we should spend our tax dollars on this?"


the question is.....are you willing to borrow money today from the Chinese to pay for PBS...that your children and grandchildren will pay back, and pay a ton of interest on?

Is 'consumption today' worth borrowing trillions of dollars for a much lower standard of living today?

If the government was running a surplus and took in enough revenues to pay for all the government programs....with cash left over, you could make a reasonable argument to fund PBS.

When you aren't, the bigger question is what else beside PBS funding should be cut so your kids future isn't highly impaired?

If you don't have the cash in your family budget to afford 'art' or pay to go to the expensive museum.....but have to put it on the already near maxed out credit card instead, insisting 'it is worth it' as you head to financial Armaggedeon....... your are headed for disaster.

So is the country. Everyone wants 'their program' preserved.....this group, that group, the welfare weenies..the food stamp folks, the folks on 3 years of unemployment and counting, the folks with subsidized mortgages, the folks with all the tax loopholes, and everything else.

It can't and won't go on for much longer.


Again, are you willing to BORROW to pay for PBS today?


t.
t.
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"So has anyone made the case for continued government funding of PBS? So far there's a lot of "I want its"...meaning those who want it should pay for it."

You'd be hard pressed to find experts in early education that would tell you Sesame Street is bad for young kids. This should fall into the 'no brainer' category, and it is disturbing that it is being questioned at all.

Yes, without a doubt, our government should absolutely be spending tax dollars on positive, publicly available, educational programming. We need to have a source of this kind of material that isn't driven by profit.
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"Yes, without a doubt, our government should absolutely be spending tax dollars on positive, publicly available, educational programming. We need to have a source of this kind of material that isn't driven by profit."


The web is going to change all that. Kids don't even watch TV these days.


My niece and nephew use their iPads to watch the news on Comedy Central. Their TV set is used to watch movies they get from Netflix and that's about all. Maybe sports on a Sunday when adults visit...


Ever hear of the Khan Academy? teaches millions about math.

and you don't think the Big Bird enterprise doesn't rake in millions? Gimme a break....Sesame Street cleans up.....millions in profits!...

heh heh..


t.
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"Yes, without a doubt, our government should absolutely be spending tax dollars on positive, publicly available, educational programming. We need to have a source of this kind of material that isn't driven by profit."
_____________________

Not driven for profit, yeah that is happening.

Look I got some old underwear here, it was worn by Cleopatra and you can get real real good money for it, probably 5-7 thousand per. I'll let you have them 3 for 5 dollars because I like you. You want the PO box?

You people really do believe the stuff you say, it is amazing.
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[ "Yes, without a doubt, our government should absolutely be spending tax dollars on positive, publicly available, educational programming. We need to have a source of this kind of material that isn't driven by profit." ]

"The web is going to change all that. Kids don't even watch TV these days."

Wrong, they do. I'm guessing you don't have any little ones around. Ask around, kids are still watching TV.



"My niece and nephew use their iPads to watch the news on Comedy Central. Their TV set is used to watch movies they get from Netflix and that's about all. Maybe sports on a Sunday when adults visit..."

I seriously doubt that your niece and nephew never watch TV, but even if that's true, they sure aren't representative of all kids, and certainly not of kids in high risk (poor) situations. Most kids are still watching TV, and parents are looking for interesting, stimulative, and educational content - not generally how I would describe Comedy Central.


"Ever hear of the Khan Academy? teaches millions about math."

Yes, I have taken some courses. You seem to think I am somehow anti-internet learning - not at all. And on line learning has nothing to do with this question.



"and you don't think the Big Bird enterprise doesn't rake in millions? Gimme a break....Sesame Street cleans up.....millions in profits!...heh heh.."

Again, you are speaking from some ignorance of what is reality. Sesame Workshop is the non-profit educational organization that produces Sesame Street, is completely separate from the non-profit Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
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"You people really do believe the stuff you say, it is amazing."

You didn't know that PBS is non-profit?
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So far there's a lot of "I want its"...meaning those who want it should pay for it.

Can we do that with the next war?

Speck
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Kids don't even watch TV these days. My niece and nephew use their iPads to watch the news on Comedy Central.

You know that an iPad in this case is just another medium for the same program, right?

and you don't think the Big Bird enterprise doesn't rake in millions? Gimme a break....Sesame Street cleans up.....millions in profits!...

Being a publicly-funded company, that sort of information is readily available, and it's at odds with what I can only imagine is a wild guess on your part:

Sesame Street and its production company the Sesame Workshop do make a lot of money from product licensing, but not nearly enough to cover expenses. According to the company’s most recent financial report, the Workshop earned about $45 million in merchandising during 2010, which accounted for one-third of its total revenue. The rest came mainly from distribution fees and royalties, and from an assortment of private donors, corporate sponsors, and government grants. That may sound like more than enough to make a puppet-based television show, but according to the same report, the operating expenses for the Sesame Workshop totaled about $133 million, including $37 million for production and development of TV shows at home and abroad; $41 million for production and distribution of non-TV content including apps, home video, and live entertainment; and a hair under $7 million for “Muppet acquisition.” (The remainder goes towards education, outreach, fundraising expenses, and assorted smaller costs.) Only about $4 million comes from PBS annually, and in return PBS recoups some of the cost.
http://mobile.slate.com/articles/business/explainer/2012/01/...

You can look it up:
http://supportus.sesameworkshop.org/atf/cf/%7B696041d3-7012-...

Speck
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It wants independence. No other station would offer CTW a home without strings attached. PBS’s lack of economic motives was imperative. PBS offers a home to strange shows that just want to do something positive.

That is still no longer true. As you pointed out previously, there are now hundreds of channels from the far right to the far left. There are channels for nearly every lifestyle and interest.

There may not be a single place for everything shown PBS but I am positive there is a CHANNEL out there for every program that is currently on PBS.
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You've never seen Mr. Roger's Senate testimony?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q
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Can we do that with the next war?

Or the next farm subsidy....like for ethanol, or not growing this or that?

Or the next bank bailout sponsored by an ex-Goldman guy to benefit other current and ex Goldman guys?

Or how about making it that the red states only receive back in Federal funds an amount roughly equal to what they paid in?

This can be fun....give up $1.50 per person and get back thousands!!

Poz
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So far there's a lot of "I want its"...meaning those who want it should pay for it.

Can we do that with the next war?

Speck

---------------



Why can't we do that with the bill for THIS war? :)

Just askin'


AM
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there are now hundreds of channels from the far right to the far left. There are channels for nearly every lifestyle and interest

And an expensive cable subscription to watch them that many Americans cannot afford. We may drop cable ourselves when the hubster retires--and we're better off than the average retired couple.

Basic educational television should be freely available to all just like public education should be freely available to all.
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I always find it amusing when you see some footage from Iran or other like country and they say "this is from state TV" with the implication that perhaps its not all as it is being reported.

The thing is we are often seeing it on state run TV ourselves whether it is PBS, BBC or the ABC in Oz.

The problem with public broadcasting is that it is crowding out private enterprise, its easy to say that if a public broadcaster was not doing it no one else would but how do you know? Plus with IP TV and podcasts there is a global audience for niche content.

The other point is that Govt Broadcasting has expanded beyond its charter of filling gaps in the commercial networks but rather they directly compete with private enterprise.

Speaking for the BBC and ABC they have more funding than any of the commercial networks and they both are extraordinarily biased to the left. The ABC in OZ does not have one conservative commentator or show, and yet all taxpayers fund it.

Just to take a simple example the ABC has a weekly very well produced computer game show. But why does the government need to produce a computer game show? There are numerous computer game shows video and audio podcasts as well as magazines.

They also have a free online news site that is causing problems for private newspapers particularly those of the left. This is likely to lead to the demise of one commercial newspaper

This is why NewsCorp's major competitor is not private enterprise but the government. In the UK its the BBC and in Aust its the ABC both in print and video.

Do not expect this to change, in fact expect govt funded TV/Radio to expand and crowd out private enterprise even more, leading to the demise of more newspapers and TV stations. Then the argument will be it has to be governement funded because no one can make a buck out of it.
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I think it is a worthwhile question. If we are going to find our way out of this fiscal mess, it is essential that all spending be examined.

Here's the case. It is in the preamble to the Constitution.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The preamble is generally recognized as a vague statement. It doesn't convey specific powers nor does it impose clear limitations. It just talks in general terms about the role of government in American society. One legitimate role of government is the promotion of the general welfare. Now the word welfare today has taken on a pejorative quality, but it used to mean that people should fare well. The old meaning includes, to my mind, things like education and parks and clean water and arts and letters. So, reading it that way, funding for high-quality educational broadcasting strikes me as an entirely legitimate use of taxpayer's money.

Now I don't watch much public television, but I listen to public radio for at least an hour every day. It is thoughtful, articulate, free of commercial influences, and exposes me to news from a variety of sources from around the world. I think the information I receive from NPR makes me a better citizen. The foundation of a free republic is an educated citizenry. I think that, in its various iterations, PBS and NPR keeps that foundation strong.
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Well you say, what about my favorite programs such as Sesame Street and Nova? WGBH used to produce This Old House and New Yankee Workshop. Those productions were sold to Time Warner and they're still on the air. Sesame Street is actually produced by a separate non-profit. If you like BBC shows, I'm sure they could find a different venue for their shows if PBS ever went away. So, what's the case to fund PBS with our tax dollars?

I may be wrong, but I think that federal funding of public broadcasting mostly supports stations, not programming. In other words, the money goes to keeping non-profit radio and TV stations in places like Jonnston, Iowa, in business.

There's little doubt that PBS and NPR could be commercially viable in Boston, New York, San Francisco and L.A. Or that Sesame Street and Nova could find space on the cable dial. What's at stake isn't Big Bird or Prarie Home Companion. It's access to that kind of programming for all Americans.
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I agree with all the pro-PBS posts I've seen (haven't read the entire thread, but the posts I have read have nailed it!).

I find it so interesting that the right (specifically) wants to target PBS, as if that would be a major budgetary 'win'. Really? The amount of money is so piddly as to be almost irrelevant. It's like the captain of the Titanic worrying that his tea isn't the right temperature while water is gushing through that big gash in the side.

Priorities, people! Revenue (taxes), defense, entitlements, SS and Medicare. Those are the elephants in the room that need to be addressed. Or maybe the 800lb gorillas that are about to beat the crap out of us.

PBS doesn't even belong in the same building, much less the same room, with that discussion.
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The foundation of a free republic is an educated citizenry.

And unfortunately, the foundation of one of our two major political parties is an uneducated citizenry.

--FY
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I'm really just trying to keep it to a dialogue without the inevitable mud slinging from both sides. I just don't want it to devolve into that.

Good luck with that. But it's unlikely with offenders on both sides. Think about your own board if you want standards of "civility" (for want of a better word). However, part of the fun of PA is the free-for-all.

It's an interesting thread with lots of thoughtful and lots of clever posts. So ya' done good. ;-)
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I still haven't seen a good answer to why we should borrow money from China to fund PBS.

We as a country are broke. Borrow 1.4 trillion a year just to keep government going. Spend 4 trillion a year.


can't cut a dime out of the budget it seems. Just raise taxes on the middle class.....more fees..more hidden ObamaKare taxes.....more taxes on emnployers passed on through lower raises and headcount cuts....


Now, again, why should we be borrowing money from China for PBS now? Why should your kids and grandkids have to pay back for you to watch PBS today?




t.
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I find it so interesting that the right (specifically) wants to target PBS, as if that would be a major budgetary 'win'.

1poorguy, did you read the OP? I specifically talked about the fact that this wasn't about the budget and I had no illusions that cutting PBS would solve any of our funding woes. Instead, I was looking for reasons as to why there should be Federal funding. More of a philosophical question.


Grape
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More of a philosophical question.

Which, as I said, others responded quite well. Broadcasting in the public interest instead of corporate interest. We need that, IMO.
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Basic educational television should be freely available to all just like public education should be freely available to all.

Why?

Seriously, why is there this assumption that, as a government service, we should educate our populace through a television?

As you stated, we have many no-fee (but not free) services already provided by the government to education our citizens. Why is there this assumption that television be one of them? The television was created as an entertainment device.

The entire premise of public education via television is based on the belief that if we did not fund it, if it did not exist, that you would not find it some place else. I don't believe that. I believe it would still exist - but if it didn't, I think that if you did not have SS on PBS, it would find its way to ABC, or CBS, or NBC - and still be no fee. The same goes for most shows on PBS.
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Now I don't watch much public television, but I listen to public radio for at least an hour every day. It is thoughtful, articulate, free of commercial influences, and exposes me to news from a variety of sources from around the world. I think the information I receive from NPR makes me a better citizen. The foundation of a free republic is an educated citizenry. I think that, in its various iterations, PBS and NPR keeps that foundation strong.

I generally agree with you; and I also listen to NPR about an hour a day.

Is it free from commerical influences? Absolutely not. You get advertisements during every segment from the businesses that support NPR. Since so little of their funding comes from the government, I fail to see how what little the fed pays is the one thing that keeps NPR/PBS in business.

I do understand that much of the money goes to local PBS stations - but I am of the opinion that local tax revenue (if a states decides to fund such) would be better oriented to pay for such over the fed.
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