P.O.V. on CPB


After reading in USA Today about the premiere tonight of the PBS documentary series P.O.V., I made a note to tune in:

High-schooler Shelby Knox who pledges celibacy until marriage spearheads a campaign for comprehensive sex education.

Unfortunately, the sound was out on the local PBS affiliate, and efforts to notify someone about the problem failed.

The gist of the USA Today story was about liberal bias in public broadcasting amidst plans for cutting Federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). I was curious to see if a bias toward left-wing views of sexual morality was evident in tonight's documentary. Now I'll have to find out second-hand.

CPB mainly funds program development -- the operation of your local public broadcasting outlet is paid for by listeners, local sponsors, and state and local government.

Actor Robert Redford isn't happy about the proposed CPB cuts:

The United States "was built on a foundation of diversity and of protecting the rights of all people," Redford said. "When I see any attempts by one group to take all absolute power to corrupt our democratic principles that might be narrow or ideologically driven, then I know we're in trouble. PBS belongs to the public."

How does cutting funding to CPB "corrupt our democratic principles"? Is there a fundamental right to have the propagation of your opinions funded by the government? And if PBS belongs to the public, shouldn't it cater to majority tastes? Somehow I don't think that's what Redford has in mind. PBS doesn't need to cater to majority tastes because the market handles that quite efficiently. The market even does a pretty good job of "narrowcasting" to smaller but substantial minority interests, thanks to cable and the Internet. What public interest is served by government funding for one TV station out of 100?

Cutting CPB funds won't mean the end of NPR or PRI or PBS. No one is going to declare Sesame Street blighted and bulldoze it. Boohbah and Teletubbies will still be there to hypnotize children, annoy parents, and enhance the recreational use of controlled substances. Barney's position is, alas, secure. Click and Clack will still dispense automotive wisdom. You'll still be able to wake up each morning to the reassuring tones of Bob Edwards -- no, wait, NPR fired him for being too old. If a program is good enough to attract an audience, companies and viewers will see value in contributing toward its production and broadcast.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 21, 2005 10:25 PM.

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