Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

There just isn't a good reason for PBS to continue sucking taxpayer dollars

Here's Joel Stein on why PBS is no longer a viable choice in today's divvying up of political funds:

There is no other station so obviously aimed at rich, well-educated, white people. Should our government be responsible for providing Edith Piaf documentaries, 98-hour histories of jazz and baseball, Broadway shows, discussions between Charlie Rose and Yo-Yo Ma and rich people figuring out how much their antiques are worth? This is a demo that was clamoring for Alan Alda before his gig on 'The West Wing.' Sure, there must be some poor people who don't have basic cable and really enjoy 'Sesame Street' and 'Nova.' But for $400 million we could have Big Bird fly to their houses every morning and teach their kids how to count in Spanish. The idea that market forces cannot produce shows of as high quality as the government is patronizing. We don't need the government to get Thomas Pynchon to write books or Alexander Payne to direct movies. Besides, if we have to let one medium devolve artistically, I think TV is the way to go. So let's untether PBS from our government, freeing up not only the $400 million but the time spent each year arguing about the $400 million. PBS could move to cable and live off money it would get for selling off its broadcast-spectrum space to those new sucker networks that believe low-number channels still mean something in a TiVo world. Yes, it would mean even more ads than PBS now has. And although ads are annoying, they're a lot better than pledge drives. At least ads on other networks tell me about new stuff I might want, whereas I already know I don't like tote bags. Besides, I can't help but wonder what kind of commercials the Helena Rubenstein Foundation would produce. I'm guessing hot models.
As the parent of young children, I'd love to argue that PBS had least has the virtue of not having commercials, but that's a lie. Every episode of a kids' program begins with at least 5 minutes of commercials. It's true that these commercials aren't quite as blatant as those on CBS or TBS, but they're manifestly commercials all the same, and my kids understand what they are, and clamor later for the junk they offer (usually junk food, which is even worse in my mind than junk toys).