Search This Blog

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Do We Still Need Public Funding For TV?

Over 50 years ago, there were three TV networks in the USA:  CBS, NBC and ABC.  There were a few independent stations in the biggest cities, but otherwise, Americans had at most three choices when they turned on the TV set.  At that point, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting was started as a means to broaden the choices available to the public.  In the beginning it was called "educational TV" because most of the daytime programs were meant to be watched by children in order to improve their educations.

Okay, that was then.  Today, most people have the choice of a great many different TV networks.  I have never counted, but I think my cable company offers over 300 choices.  One group of choices comes from PBS (I think there are six different PBS stations on my TV).  There are, however, a myriad of other possibilities.  And let's not forget that there are more shows/networks available on the internet.  Is there really still a need for a TV network funded by the government?

This is the relevant question to ask given that the new budget proposal from the Trump administration includes ending funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as for the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities.  Without a doubt, CPB does satisfy a large audience.  There is no reason, however, that CPB couldn't adapt were government funding to end.  The network already uses "sponsorships" which are actually advertising by large companies.  With a slight expansion, the government money could be replaced.

The arguments against a cut off are beginning already.  My favorite is that the amount being spent is so little.  We're told that it's only half a billion dollars each year.  I wonder if the people saying this realize how silly they sound.

PBS will still be here with or without government money.  There is, however, no reason anymore for the government to fund any network.

No comments: