Ready To Learn?
June 10, 2005 8:49 AM   Subscribe

House Appropriations panel eliminates ALL public funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS Ready To Learn. From this morning's Cynopsis:Kids e-newsletter: "In our nation's capital yesterday, a House Appropriations subcommittee voted to approve a new bill that will see budgets sliced for both public TV and radio. Specifically in the line of fire in the kid TV universe is the elimination of the full $23m in funding for Public TV's Ready to Learn initiative. Ready to Learn provides some funds for PBS series including, Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Arthur, Reading Rainbow, Clifford the Big Red Dog and could have Buster sending smoke signals instead of postcards. [...] Though the President proposed a small budget reduction for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting this past winter, yesterday's subcommittee vote would also eliminate all government monetary funds intended for the CPB over the course of the next two years, beginning with a $100m decrease in funding to $300m for next year." Perhaps this will free up some money for No Child Left Behind?
posted by eatyourlunch (85 comments total)

 
Old and busted: Public television
New Hotness: pork for Red states
posted by modernerd at 8:57 AM on June 10, 2005


.

As someone who used to work in public broadcasting (I spent a summer writing and editing the program guide for Maryland Public Television), and as a Muppet fan, this scares me. Please, somebody tell me this isn't as bad as it sounds.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:59 AM on June 10, 2005


Wow... why do they hate Sesame Street? Why?
posted by odinsdream at 9:03 AM on June 10, 2005


This is payback for giving lesbian parents a few seconds of airtime on Buster. When content doesn't jibe with the ideology, change the content.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:05 AM on June 10, 2005


With government money comes government control. I think public radio, while hurt in the short term by this move, will be strengthened in the long run. If they're not dependent on tax money, then the politicians will have a very hard time exerting any control over their content.

If it does go through, remember it'll be extra important to donate to your local stations every year.
posted by Malor at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2005


PBS has seriously lost its way; their cultural programming is still tailored to the ten-minute attention span. When they purchased the broadcast rights to Josh Grobin live in concert, they kind of pulled their own plug. The kids programming is by and large good, but they can't really compete with the offerings available on cable.

I'll fight to the death to keep my NPR, though.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:08 AM on June 10, 2005


The complete subcommittee markup (pdf) is on the committee's website.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:14 AM on June 10, 2005


Is this an attempt to punish PBS for not supporting the same ideology as the Republicans in Congress?

Quite possibly, but if that is the case it just strengthens the case for ending government support for public broadcasting. As long as that funding exists, the politicians will want to control the content of the programming, and with good reason.

Freeing public broadcasting of the strings that come with government funding can only improve the quality of the programming.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:17 AM on June 10, 2005


Contact Your Congressperson in the U.S. House of Representatives Today
(simple form uses your zip to identify your rep and then enables you to send a message via webform)

Complete List of the US House Committee of Appropriations Members
Is your rep on the committee?
posted by anastasiav at 9:20 AM on June 10, 2005


Wow... why do they hate Sesame Street? Why?

While I am a firm supporter of PBS (and NPR) I think using Sesame Street as a rallying point is a bad idea. Those who would cut PBS funding will be quick to point out that CTW (Producers of S.S.) brings in over $100,000,000 a year in merchandising revenue alone from Sesame Street (Tickle Me Elmo anyone?) so why should the taxpayer subsidize a show with that kind of revenue?
posted by MikeMc at 9:21 AM on June 10, 2005


So this'll kill Frontline, too? Godfuckingdammit.
posted by cmonkey at 9:26 AM on June 10, 2005


While this is bad, wouldn't it really piss of the Republicans if they cut the funding and PBS and NPR survived. Then they lose the tether that has lead to things like Tucker Carlson and the like.

Unfortunately, I think even without funding it, the US Gov. is in charge of the CPB.
posted by drezdn at 9:28 AM on June 10, 2005


MikeMc: Are the taxpayers subsidizing the creation of the show, or are they subsidizing PBS's ability to purchase and broadcast the show?
Those are very different things, and I am really not sure how it works.
posted by bashos_frog at 9:30 AM on June 10, 2005


Freeing public broadcasting of the strings that come with government funding can only improve the quality of the programming.

Depends on the programming. When it comes to questioning the government, the government-funded BBC is far more courageous than the corporation-funded media in the United States.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:35 AM on June 10, 2005


I support killing public television, but this is just absolutely stupid, politically.

You've got billions of dollars in farm subsidies, about half a dozen distortion-inducing wasteful cabinet-level departments, The Department of Education (remember when you wanted to kill that one, guys?), The War on Drugs, and Medicare/Medicaid/OASDI-- so you decide to try to kill a very visible, emotionally charged, relatively tiny half-a-billion dollar program that teaches reading better and cheaper than idiot parents and failed schools. Yeah. That'll balance the budget without political consequences!

Real smart, assholes. When we have four years of Hillary-my-negatives-are-still-sky-high-but I'm-president-now-so-you-can-suck-it-assholes-Clinton, the Republicans will have no one but themselves to blame.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:39 AM on June 10, 2005


The BBC is also government funded, and I don't see anyone saying that taking away its funding would make its programmes better

Sesame Street is brought to you today by Pepsi Blue.
posted by bonaldi at 9:41 AM on June 10, 2005


Perhaps this will free up some money for No Child Left Behind?

Many US teachers now derisively characterize the initiative as "No Child Left."
posted by alumshubby at 9:44 AM on June 10, 2005


it was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen
posted by a thousand writers drunk at the keyboard at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2005


You know, when you decide that you DO have the trillion dollars to go a third of the way around the world to fight an unnecessary war based on political fantasies, it must seem suspect to the shrewd observer that you would then cut funding of a few million dollars to a non-commercial TV network "in the name of cutting costs".

Then again I wouldn't put it past this Administration to use the war's costliness -- no matter how ultimately unwarranted and wholly political it was -- to justify gutting whatever social programs the US has. I think one could call this the "no government program left behind" initiative.
posted by clevershark at 9:46 AM on June 10, 2005


You guys got it wrong. "No child left behind" is actually how Bush and Cheney refer to their upcoming string of political wars abroad.
posted by clevershark at 9:47 AM on June 10, 2005


Freeing public broadcasting of the strings that come with government funding

Well, then it's actually no longer public broadcasting. It's just another network beholden to its advertisers, as bonaldi pointed out.
posted by transient at 9:51 AM on June 10, 2005


They obviously saw the Bert is Evil and decided that they would stop the creation of new terrorists by nipping it in the bud.
posted by longbaugh at 9:55 AM on June 10, 2005


I previously despised our representatives; now it's unadulterated, visceral hate.
posted by blendor at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2005


Only in America in this day and age would a grossly Stalinist GOP power-grab to clamp down on media in the public interest be spun as possibly good for the quality of programming.

Remember "no taxation without representation"? I'd like my taxes funding hard-nosed, non-commercial reporting, thank you, rather than bombs. We need the kind of thorough, sober coverage that PBS used to specialize in now more than ever.
Meanwhile, you have Fox News reporters, no longer content to start lying the moment that an event is over, acting as agent provocateurs at disrupt press conferences.

This country is slipping closer and closer to 1984 every day.
posted by digaman at 9:57 AM on June 10, 2005


The Senate will restore it, i hope, but this is the death knell for free public television--where it really hurts is schools that rely on the language and math and other educational programming. I predict that by 2007 not a penny will be allocated to it at all.
posted by amberglow at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2005


*to disrupt
posted by digaman at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2005


Sesame Street has been going downhill for a while now.
Cookie Monster: "Cookies are a 'sometimes' food"
posted by Balisong at 9:58 AM on June 10, 2005


Why would it need to be beholden to advertisers, anymore than it is now?

PBS finds funding from plenty of places that are neither the government nor advertisers. There's plenty of money to be found from donations from individuals and from private foundations. Furthermore, I think we would find that if the government stopped funding PBS these kind of contributions would increase to cover most of the difference. Enough people like PBS to want it to survive.

The "public" in public broadcasting does not need to mean "government".

I like PBS and NPR. I like that there is a outlet for those kind of programs, but I don't like the idea that someone in Washington can tell them what to do. As long as the federal government continues to fund and run this service, that sort of control will be a fact of life.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:02 AM on June 10, 2005


Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments for the Elimination of Televsion :
"I'm not a fan of Sesame Street. It’s a very arch Western style of television. The way the imagery is presented on the show is tantamount to advertising. It was originally created by advertising people, that's why it's edited in that rapid-fire, repetitive fashion. It’s an advertising technique that people really respond to."
http://www.frictionmagazine.com/politik/wave_makers/mander.asp

posted by squalor at 10:04 AM on June 10, 2005


I used to donate to PBS but I stopped because they sold my info to other charities. Is there any way to donate without nightly calls from other charities that smell blood in the water?
posted by substrate at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2005


MikeMc: Are the taxpayers subsidizing the creation of the show, or are they subsidizing PBS's ability to purchase and broadcast the show?
Those are very different things, and I am really not sure how it works.


I'm not sure either but...AFAIK Sesame Street is produced soley for PBS and I don't think they have to bid against other networks for broadcast rights so, if it isn't a direct subsidy it might as well be.

Again I think public broadcasting is money well spent compared to many other things *cough,Million Dollar Bus Stop ,cough* but S.S. is a cash cow for somebody...
posted by MikeMc at 10:10 AM on June 10, 2005


My 3 year old is gonna be pissed if they touch Arthur.
posted by Buck Eschaton at 10:14 AM on June 10, 2005


I can't find the article right now, but there was talk of a new head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting being a former lobbyist that was against PBS in the past, and it was reportedly being pushed through by Bush. This news wouldn't surprise me one bit.
posted by mathowie at 10:15 AM on June 10, 2005


Million Dollar Bus Stop (Sorry).
posted by MikeMc at 10:16 AM on June 10, 2005


Speaking of No Child Left Behind, I fell asleep after Frontline last night, and woke up to some children's cartoon that was coming to an end. I was a little surprised to hear that its funding came from NCLB, but maybe eatyourlunch is right and more funding will be shifted in this way (simultaneously strengthening the case for NCLB).
posted by blendor at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2005


I used to donate to PBS but I stopped because they sold my info to other charities. Is there any way to donate without nightly calls from other charities that smell blood in the water?

Send a money order?
posted by Kwantsar at 10:17 AM on June 10, 2005


Why would it need to be beholden to advertisers, anymore than it is now?
PBS finds funding from plenty of places that are neither the government nor advertisers. There's plenty of money to be found from donations from individuals and from private foundations. Furthermore, I think we would find that if the government stopped funding PBS these kind of contributions would increase to cover most of the difference. Enough people like PBS to want it to survive.


Because producing, gaining rights for, and/or commissioning arts programming isn't free or cheap. Broadway shows, operas, concerts, American Experience, ... --they all cost money that commercial networks don't see a ratings payoff in broadcasting at all.

Look at hunger in America--something far more important--the government is by far the biggest provider of relief, and private charity is just a drop in the bucket. Why would other sources save Public Television when they can't even (or don't want to) feed all the hungry kids in America?
posted by amberglow at 10:18 AM on June 10, 2005


oh, this is such insane bullshit! print this out and stick it on your wall and remind everyone which party killed PBS come 2008.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:19 AM on June 10, 2005


Bush and Cheney are laughing like the Count just got to 13.
posted by gunthersghost at 10:21 AM on June 10, 2005


Aw hell, let 'em kill it.
Let 'em do all their crazy shit right out in public where everyone can see.
Maybe when the voters don't have PBS or health care or parklands that haven't been strip-mined, it might occur to them that voting has consequences.
In any case, I'd rather it go away than alter its programming to make the religious right happy.
Besides, non-right wing programming is proving to be profitable. And, by God we don't let anything interfere with the making of money in the US of A!
posted by cows of industry at 10:24 AM on June 10, 2005


Is our children learning, then?
posted by Busithoth at 10:27 AM on June 10, 2005


Please, somebody tell me this isn't as bad as it sounds.

Believe it or not, this is a Good Thing.

As long as public radio and public television remain beholden to any federal or state funding for any portion of their budget, legislators will be able to continue to hammer them about programming they don't like, and public broadcasting stations and networks will attempt to steer a "safe" course in selecting content. The result is already obvious: much of public broadcasting, especially television, is offering a pretty bland mix and not much material that's daring in any way, politically or artistically.

Eliminating all public funding would allow public broadcasting a free hand in programming, which in turn would increase audiences and hence funding, from individual contributors as well as corporate sponsors and foundations. Rather than moan, groan, weep and wail about the loss of public funding, public broadcasting should come up with strategies to divorce themselves from legislative handouts, because as we all know, there is no free lunch.
posted by beagle at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2005


Look at hunger in America--something far more important--the government is by far the biggest provider of relief, and private charity is just a drop in the bucket.

That's so clever. Government outlays are 35-40% of GDP and you ask why charity doesn't do more.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2005


Good idea, beagle -- let's get our elected representatives out of the way so that corporations can exert pressure on programming directly, with no middleman.

You might try explaining that to the Iraqis who we're bombing so they have the right to elect their own representatives, while you're at it.
posted by digaman at 10:37 AM on June 10, 2005


Eliminating all public funding would allow public broadcasting

if it gets absolutely no public funding, how is it public broadcasting?

and even if the magical "free market" somehow makes "public" broadcasting better after the goverment iv money drip is removed, how do we avoid a scenario wherein the largest private donor influences programming?

extending some of the logic seen in this thread, we should eliminate public funding for universities so that they don't suffer under the burden of being told what to teach by the govt; medicare and medicaid should be eliminated so the sick aren't burdened by the government telling them what medications they can have; and the army should go to private funding so that soldiers won't be able to claim that government remfs are putting them in harm's way for political gain and no citizen will be able to claim that her tax money is being used to engage in conflicts she doesn't support.

sweet!!!
posted by lord_wolf at 10:38 AM on June 10, 2005


Maybe the CPB should have made better deals with Children's Television Workshop. I wonder who gets the royalties every time an Elmo doll is sold...?
posted by bugmuncher at 10:47 AM on June 10, 2005


"...how do we avoid a scenario wherein the largest private donor influences programming?"
What, you don't that's happening now?
posted by cows of industry at 10:49 AM on June 10, 2005


Can anyone here please make a case for federal funding of CPB as a compelling government interest?

And with this crowd, it's probably not necessary to clarify, but pointing out that other funded projects are also not a compelling government interest does not make the case.
posted by rush at 10:55 AM on June 10, 2005


Well, sure. CPB produces and airs educational television, making children smarter. All you need to do is posit that an educated populace is a public good, and you've got a compelling government interest.

I think it's bullshit, myself, but it's not a crazy argument.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:10 AM on June 10, 2005


Maybe the CPB should have made better deals with Children's Television Workshop. I wonder who gets the royalties every time an Elmo doll is sold...?

yeah. we should investigate this in depth.
$8.8 billion bilked in Iraq, and penny royalties from plush sweatshop crafts will really teach us some lessons in fiscal responsibility.
posted by Busithoth at 11:14 AM on June 10, 2005


Eliminating all public funding would allow public broadcasting a free hand in programming, which in turn would increase audiences and hence funding, from individual contributors as well as corporate sponsors and foundations.

ARRTGGOGOGOGHH! We are the public -- taxpayers and voters. We have a critical need for accurate information about the world around us. As taxpayers and voters, we cannot make reasonable decisions without this information. Public broadcasting allows the public one meager chance at getting information that is not filtered through dominating corporate funding or political spin.

Only when a government is recklessly abusing power is the government and government money any sort of risk to public broadcasting. But CORPORATE funding for public broadcasting is by definition a risk to public broadcasting...

The government reports to the people, public broadcasting reports to the government. It's our information and our broadcasting. Corporate funded broadcasting reports to corporations and is this accountable to those corporations. Corporations exist to make money for their shareholders. Thinking that these two sources are funding are equal -- or even that corporate funding is better -- is simply ludicrous. *explodes*
posted by VulcanMike at 11:17 AM on June 10, 2005


Many US teachers now derisively characterize the initiative as "No Child Left."

I actually heard an employee of the Department of Education refer to it as No Child Left Alive one time. They meant it.

why do they hate Sesame Street? Why?

Don't worry, Bush will never cancel Sesame Street. They just got to the letter j and he's dying to find out what happens next!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:19 AM on June 10, 2005


bonaldi writes "The BBC is also government funded, and I don't see anyone saying that taking away its funding would make its programmes better"

Isn't the Beeb funded from the TV tax?

substrate writes "Is there any way to donate without nightly calls from other charities that smell blood in the wate"

Cash in an envelope?
posted by Mitheral at 11:20 AM on June 10, 2005


CPB produces and airs educational television, making children smarter.

If you can sufficiently prove that, you'll certainly be off to a start. As of now, though, CPB is a funding hole with no accountability.
posted by rush at 11:21 AM on June 10, 2005


This is the single best opportunity for a true liberal media network to emerge. Forget Air America - they're barely clearing the tree tops. We already have a de facto liberal media network in PBS/NPR and it's only the government funding that makes us have to pretend it's fair and balanced. Free Robert Seigel! Free Bill Moyers! Go, Republicans, go!
posted by twsf at 11:22 AM on June 10, 2005


We already have a de facto liberal media network in PBS/NPR and it's only the government funding that makes us have to pretend it's fair and balanced. - twsf

Strangers with this kind of honesty make me go a big rubbery one. - Fight Club
posted by rush at 11:28 AM on June 10, 2005


Just to bring some facts to this discussion, see where the money comes from for public broadcasting. Federal funds via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting are 15.5% of the total budget. State funding is another 13.6%, and non-CPB federal money is 3.9%. Not counting support of state colleges for college stations, that means 33% of all the money comes from government -- clearly enough to exert influence. Business is only 15.1%. Clearly that 33% is exercising a lot of clout right now.

if it gets absolutely no public funding, how is it public broadcasting?
It would be funded by the public, directly instead of via our taxes. It would retain its tax free status on the condition that it maintain relatively minimal commercial support, which in turn helps preserve programming independence. It would eliminate the nonsense going on in the House, which is the subject of this thread.
posted by beagle at 11:30 AM on June 10, 2005


It's pledge time on WTTW here in Chicago for the next several weeks. This means that instead of Frontline and Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery!, it's wall to wall "Celtic Woman", Barbara Sher and her assinine Idea Party and Wayne Dyer and his nonsensical, bullshit New Age gobbledygook ("When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" - shut up, Wayne). I certainly am not inspired to support such crap television either voluntarily or via my tax dollars.

However.

Once again, hysteria overrides reading comprehension in the land of the FPP. The funding for CPB has not been cut yet. This is merely a vote by a Panel in the House. Further action must now be taken by the full House and Senate. From the NYT:

The cuts in financing went significantly beyond those requested by the White House and are likely to be approved next week by the full Appropriations Committee and then by the House. Lobbyists for public television and radio say they hope to have the money restored in the version of the bill prepared by the Senate, where they have support from several senior Republican members. The final legislation will be the product of negotiations between the House and Senate.
posted by gsh at 11:35 AM on June 10, 2005


Said it before... but...

America sucks more every day.
posted by wakko at 11:52 AM on June 10, 2005


First they make Cookie Monster eat carrots and now this?

My inner child is crying.

I grew up with only PBS in the house. While some of their documentaries are a bit... dry... they show a good selection of British comedy and their children's programming is a lot better than the sugary tripe paraded around on Nick Jr. Though I must say now that I have access to things like the Discovery channel, I watch much less PBS, I would be very very upset if Sesame Street were to disappear.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:07 PM on June 10, 2005


We already have a de facto liberal media network in PBS/NPR

That's just hilarious.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:09 PM on June 10, 2005


America sucks more every day.

This message brought to you by the symbols + and $...and viewers like you.

: <
posted by amberglow at 12:11 PM on June 10, 2005


It's called "public broadcasting" because it's paid for in large part from donations from the public, not because it's paid for mostly by the government. That being said, 1/3 is a pretty big chunk to lose, especially considering the amount to be "saved" means about nothing to the US Government.
posted by absalom at 12:12 PM on June 10, 2005


gsh, we read the frickin post. Those of us who don't want funding for these programs cut shouldn't wait to discuss the issue until your friends in the GOP finish their dirty work. There's no hysteria here: just genuine concern about the slicing of programs many people value.
posted by wheat at 12:13 PM on June 10, 2005


PPS is really the only broadcast television I allow my children (7 and 10) to watch. I've avoided paying for cable, and I don't want my kids to watch most of the dreck on broadcast tv. And I'm not talking about the programs.

The problem for me is the hundreds and hundreds of commercials. Those are the real issue for me. And so begins another fight for one of the best things the tax payers help fund: PBS and their treasure of children's programming sans (much) commercial product placement.

I'm not sure these representatives realize how effective a bunch of pissed off parents can be, when they fight to protect the freedom of their children. Watch out is all I say.
posted by mooncrow at 12:28 PM on June 10, 2005


rush: Can anyone here please make a case for federal funding of CPB as a compelling government interest?

I'll let LBJ do that:
[...]Today our problem is not making miracles--but managing miracles. We might well ponder a different question: What hath man wrought--and how will man use his inventions? The law that I will sign shortly offers one answer to that question. It announces to the world that our Nation wants more than just material wealth; our Nation wants more than a "chicken in every pot." We in America have an appetite for excellence, too.
While we work every day to produce new goods and to create new wealth, we want most of all to enrich man's spirit. That is the purpose of this act. It will give a wider and, I think, stronger voice to educational radio and television by providing new funds for broadcast facilities.
It will launch a major study of television's use in the Nation's classrooms and their potential use throughout the world. Finally--and most important--it builds a new institution: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The Corporation will assist stations and producers who aim for the best in broadcasting good music, in broadcasting exciting plays, and in broadcasting reports on the whole fascinating range of human activity. It will try to prove that what educates can also be exciting. It will get part of its support from our Government. But it will be carefully guarded from Government or from party control. It will be free, and it will be independent--and it will belong to all of our people. Television is still a young invention. But we have learned already that it has immense--even revolutionary--power to change, to change our lives.
I hope that those who lead the Corporation will direct that power toward the great and not the trivial purposes.
At its best, public television would help make our Nation a replica of the old Greek marketplace, where public affairs took place in view of all the citizens. But in weak or even in irresponsible hands, it could generate controversy without understanding; it could mislead as well as teach; it could appeal to passions rather than to reason. If public television is to fulfill our hopes, then the Corporation must be representative, it must be responsible--and it must be long on enlightened leadership. [...] So today we rededicate a part of the airwaves--which belong to all the people--and we dedicate them for the enlightenment of all the people. I believe the time has come to stake another claim in the name of all the people, stake a claim based upon the combined resources of communications. I believe the time has come to enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the cause of education. [...]
posted by blendor at 12:29 PM on June 10, 2005


Who needs PBS when Fox News runs a puppet show 24/7?
posted by NewBornHippy at 12:30 PM on June 10, 2005


Let the beast starving begin.
posted by diftb at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2005


As long as public radio and public television remain beholden to any federal or state funding for any portion of their budget, legislators will be able to continue to hammer them about programming they don't like, and public broadcasting stations and networks will attempt to steer a "safe" course in selecting content.

But this dynamic is also present in commercial media. And I am not sure it's any better on that side of the fence. Politicians do not need to fund you in order to yank you around.
posted by furiousthought at 12:31 PM on June 10, 2005


"It will get part of its support from our Government. But it will be carefully guarded from Government or from party control. It will be free, and it will be independent--and it will belong to all of our people".
Things just didn't go the way they might have. The politicians couldn't keep their hands off.
posted by Cranberry at 12:55 PM on June 10, 2005


First they came for the muppets....
posted by gimonca at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2005


("When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change" - shut up, Wayne)

Terribly mysterious!
posted by jlub at 1:16 PM on June 10, 2005


Actually, the damage to the CPB has already been done. Bush's appointee as the head of the company is avidly against the "liberal bias" that PBS and NPR exhibit. Apparently he wants O'Reilly to be broadcast on the public dime or some shit.

This funding cut is simply the "Conservatives", led by Grover Norquist, exercising an example of how cutting government spending will make "problems" of big government go away. Like backtalk from someone you are paying to report on your actions. It's a beautiful example of the emperor ordering his guards heads cut off for snickering at his small willie.

Maybe once they've tried to get this into a House Appropriations Bill we can watch some sparks really fly. Mainly because NPR does a wonderful job of covering the goings on in Congress. I expect to hear a good week to 2 weeks of coverage for 3 hours every day about how Bush's administration is trying to destroy public broadcasting, with several red faced, angry Republican toadies all screaming about how NPR is the last bastion of Red Communism. Wait and see, you know it will come up. Someone is going to slip up and call Renee Montagne a commie whore and then Steve Inskeep is just going to lose it and shoot the guest speaker. Terry Gross will start mailing pipe bombs to churches and Robert Siegel will be seen jumping the fence outside the Whitehouse wearing only his boxers with a knife between his teeth and a copy of Chairman Mao's little red cookbook tucked into his waistband.

Finally, the Washington headquarters will be under seige be the FBI, DHS, DEA, FCC, HUD, and Metro Police while Neal Conan broadcasts from a Cesna loaded with explosives and flies over the Pentagon, causing the entire Eastern Seaboard to be evacuated.

Ok, maybe I shouldn't drink so much coffee this late in the day...
posted by daq at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2005


Easy. If there is a major media outlet not controlled by a large corporation, it is a threat to the administration. Bush's solution? Make them reliant on corporate money, which means they can be controlled by business.
posted by RalphSlate at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2005


but I said nothing because I am not a muppet.
posted by CCK at 1:42 PM on June 10, 2005


As long as that funding exists, the politicians will want to control the content of the programming, and with good reason.

What good reason? It's rather simple isn't it? A network funded in part by the taxes the public pays that exists at least to some degree, outside the pressure of corporate and partisan interests. The "government" may want some control over content, but they should understand that they won't have it, that the public doesn't want them to, and indeed, that this a fundamental priniciple of a dynamic society.

Freeing public broadcasting of the strings that come with government funding can only improve the quality of the programming.

How so? The quality is usually far and above that offered by the commercial networks. I realize quality television is a subjective assessement, but I'd love to know how it would improve without government funding.

The same was said about privatizing hydro for example. Look at the results.

Isn't the Beeb funded from the TV tax?

And tax is collected for public programs, such as road maintenance, health care (in some countries), public broadcasting, etc.

Education in the States is seriously in jeopardy, from childhood to adulthood. This is another step backward.
posted by juiceCake at 1:48 PM on June 10, 2005


I love PBS and NPR, but I have never contributed to them because of the money they take from the government. Should it actually come to pass that the broadcasters stop receiving federal money I will certainly be in line to pony up my share.

I am guessing that pledge drives will be much better supported after this.
posted by thirteen at 2:10 PM on June 10, 2005


but I said nothing because I am not a muppet.

I am.
posted by jb at 2:35 PM on June 10, 2005


Of course the politicians have a good reason to want to exercise control over the content of public broadcasting. If the government funds something the public demands that it be held accountable for the quality of its output, and rightly so.

If PBS started airing absolute crap, I would want my congressmen to be able to say, "Hey, that's crap" and scale PBS's funding accordingly. To claim that we should fund PBS, no matter what it chooses to air, is the only alternative to a system where the politicians have some say.

Unfortunately, since the standards of what is and is not acceptable to fund are not easy to determine, politicians will eventually begin to disagree about what should or should not be funded.

A government funded, impartial program that offends no one is an impossible dream. The only way to avoid this problem is to take the funding away from the government and put in the hands of the real "public", i.e. individuals and civically minded foundations.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:06 PM on June 10, 2005


soon they will close the libraries. and then the collapse of our nation will begin in earnest.
posted by muppetboy at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2005


PBS will survive the funding cut, no doubt, and it will gain political independence. However, I like the way it is. If it needs to rely even more on private funding it will become even more beholden to those funders. This, in the end, will come back to haunt the conservatives and will be bad for all of us. Right now PBS is the most probing, and least controlled, of the major news sources. Pushing them to the left as the GOP seems driven to do will remove some of their credibility and leave them with less influence. Perhaps that is the real plan all along. Right now I am sitting here watching Shields and Gigot (oh hell, Gigot has been gone for all too long and tonight we get Lowry) and this is how to do talking heads on TV. You acknowledge the other side's position so that your arguments lift above mere talking points and become education, letting the listener think for themselves. To me the travesty of the funding cut will be the loss of independence at PBS. Turning it into a FOX counterpoint is not necessarily good for the public or even for liberals.
posted by caddis at 3:52 PM on June 10, 2005


Sesame Street has been going downhill for a while now.
Cookie Monster: "Cookies are a 'sometimes' food"


Actually, Sesame Street has been going downhill for decades. Watch a new episode, and then watch one of the classic old episodes (which used to run late at night on Noggin) and you can see the difference. Old episodes cover more numbers, more letters, more actual information. For example, there was a set of episodes where the crew went on a trip to Hawaii. They learned that you have to plan ahead, pack wisely, probably take a bus to the airport, go through a metal detector (fun fun fun with Oscar!), take something to keep you occupied on the plane, and a bunch of other stuff over and above letters and numbers. Now they are lucky to make it through the alphabet, a letter, a number, and "That makes Elmo want to sing the water song!"

Elmo has his moments, but I can do without his World.
posted by ilsa at 4:02 PM on June 10, 2005


I'd bet they'd be willing to keep the cash flowing if the kids' line-up looked like this 24/7.

I can't wait for the "virtue of gambling in moderation" episode, btw.
posted by maryh at 8:44 PM on June 10, 2005


They wouldn't be doing this if Mr. Rogers was still alive....
posted by Jon-o at 10:21 PM on June 10, 2005


Laura sings the praises of budget cuts.

Contact your senators and representatives today. Let them know that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS, NPR, and our local stations are an integral and necessary part of American culture.
posted by chota at 6:57 AM on June 16, 2005


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