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Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 3:45amSanction this postReply
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Tibor, you just want to kill Big Bird and condemn Bert and Ernie. C'mon, Tibor, think of the children. That would be the leftist response, anyway. ( My guilty pleasure is Sesame Street.)
(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 7/30, 3:46am)




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Post 1

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 8:36amSanction this postReply
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Oh for heaven's sake, Tibor!  There's no need to feel "guilty" for listening to public radio! Shoot, I watch PBS television broadcasts all the time without feeling guilty about it. I've also not contributed to those stations in over 20 years, not since I saw the light, so to speak. When those annoying "pledge weeks" come around (where they love to show a pie charts depicting just how much government isn't giving them), I throw a rubber brick at the screen and tell them to get financing the same way the big networks do, SELL FREAKING ADVERTISING TIME!

Geeze, if you watch the beginning of the more popular PBS broadcasts (Nova, Antiques Road Show, Frontline, etc), there are at least 5 minutes of "gratitude" plugs given to some of the biggest companies in the world who contribute to the programming. These companies aren't dumb, they know these shows are extremely popular to a huge market base. And bet me that the length of the "gratitude" plug is in direct correlation to the amount of the contribution. I can see no difference between that and directly selling several 30 second commercial spots. 




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Post 2

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 10:21amSanction this postReply
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Even leaving aside the general inappropriateness of government funding for this type of activity, public television is ridiculously superfluous these days. Over 2/3 of households with televisions have cable (not even counting satellite tv customers), and have access to multiple channels that duplicate the type of programming provided on public tv. The top 20 most subscribed cable networks include Discovery, Nickelodean, the Learning Channel, the History Channel, and C-SPAN. These and the numerous other networks have plenty of room for not just popular shows like Sesame Street, but other PBS programming as well.

A similar point could be made about the wide variety of radio stations that are redundant to public radio.

--
Richard Lawrence
Webmaster, Objectivism Reference Center





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Post 3

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 11:50amSanction this postReply
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There are aspects of the situation that have always made it difficult for me to feel clear about it.

Public broadcasting allows the possibility of program material that would not likely push to the head in the commercial media environment. The entertainment business, which is what we're talking about, is content blind. The requirement of content is to produce revenue. Because of that business requirement (which is, after all, the business requirement for everything), the entertainment media will be whatever it has to be to be the most profitable. What that be right now happens to have a lot to do with reality shows (Although that growth has, as if by miracle, fallen off this year for the first time since it got steam. And, at the same time, industry reports say networks are about to go back to rolling out more traditional, scripted formats, using recognized actors and more legitimate plot scenarios). The cheese-whiz diet is not going away any time soon, though. If there was no public radio or TV tomorrow, I don't think there would be much of a feeding frenzy going on to pick up shows.

That is the the key difference between popular culture, and everything else- it is not a business requirement for it to contain artistic or educational value in order to be profitable; it may or may not contain some. This is obvious, sure, but it's also a very hard lesson for content providers (that's what they call writers, artists, musicians, entertainers, and so forth nowadays) that take a certain seriousness to what they do. The entertainment business always has and always will have a lot to do with cheese, skillfull sheep-shearing,  and pulling the string in front of the cat.  It's part of what endears it to us.

I value much of the programming in PBS and NPR, and if you compare their production budgets to the whole of the commercial TV and radio industry, they are pretty damned efficient. I find that NPR gets current, actually important news and business information to me regularly, and accurately. As far as sports and other programs interviewing authors, they usually are worth hearing for their insights, and I don't mind if they are touring a book- I expect that many of these people write books. If NPR and PBS were truly heavily left-biased, I wouldn't be able to listen to them. I am disturbed by Tomlinson's (CPB) actions regarding monitoring, and the motivations of all those linked to that. (There's background everywhere, like: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/12/AR2005071201678_pf.html . NPR and PBS' reactions were interesting to listen to the day that broke out, as well). It's also noteworthy that recent national polling shows that the country seems to very much want public programming, and value it.

Of course,I also never thought The National Endowment for the Arts has been overall anywhere near a bad thing, either, even when it has "endowed" some really goofy stuff.  So, I guess I make exceptions for art in my generally Libertarian politics.

Pragmatically, I believe that things would be less if they were gone tomorrow. What goes on in terms of practices at CPB, and how they compare with its original charter are what needs looked at. How (and by whom) CPB is looked at in terms of being used as a chess piece needs looked at.




Post 4

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 12:43pmSanction this postReply
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Rich,

What you overlook is that much of the present near-absence of good music and other worthwhile material from commercial media has a cause: any potential commercial provider of the good stuff would face a subsidized competitor, subsidized with his own ripped-off money.

In large markets, there are opportunities left in spite of NPR. I like good music, and here in Southern California KMZT is mostly better than any NPR station. Same for WQXR in New York, KBAQ in Phoenix etc. Just think of what the opportunities would be if it were not for NPR.



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Post 5

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 11:13amSanction this postReply
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NPR gets less than ten percent of its budget from the government, and thanks to the recent bequest from the McDonald's fortune, it could easily live without that.  It should be cut off, of course, but it is silly to pretend that NPR would not or could not exist without government funding.

It is equally silly to pretend that what NPR offers is available anywhere else on American radio.

JR




Post 6

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 2:29pmSanction this postReply
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"It is equally silly to pretend that what NPR offers is available anywhere else on American radio."

Where else would we hear about "Schwetty" weiners?



Post 7

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 6:40pmSanction this postReply
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What PBS does or does not offer is not the point. Even if it were the All-Ayn-Rand-All-the-Time network it would still be an evil to force anyone to fund it.



Post 8

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 7:08pmSanction this postReply
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(Edited by robert malcom on 7/30, 7:09pm)




Post 9

Saturday, July 30, 2005 - 9:32pmSanction this postReply
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Good point Jody, besides all the Discovery Channel's have content as good as PBS's science content. Although that did release a good series on Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel" recently.



Post 10

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 7:35amSanction this postReply
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There are a lot of evilly-funded things, yes, this is the problem. The one that most recently annoyed me is Brownback's D.C. program to encourage people to get married by helping them to invest with that principle in mind. A magic wand to make all of it go away would be wonderful, but that is not currently available. I am not sure that making it available involves being as indiscriminate with cutting programs as is suggested. I don't find that impactful, mainly in terms of what it would do in the area of communication, and education. I think NPR and PBS are a good deal, given current conditions. I don't believe that if we dropped the savings from eliminating them directly into the public sector right now (and we all know it would take a much more, er, circuitous path) that anyone could do a rapid development that would exceed (or maybe just equal) NPR and PBS- these entities have evolved greatly since their inception.

Media itself is shifting. Sattelite radio is going to change things, for one. PIDs in general are. Private sector programming is not hurting for money.




Post 11

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 3:11pmSanction this postReply
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I agree that public stations are evil in principle but I'm happy that they haven't fallen into the level of pandering that many of the other educational channels have (Trading spaces, American Chopper, etc).  At least the history channel hasn't fallen off yet, I don't know what I'd do then.

Then again I'm writing this after having stayed up until 2:30 am watching an amazing biography on Samuel Goldwyn on my local pbs station.

---Landon




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