Should Public Broadcasting Receive Federal Dollars?

I say yes, they sure should. Where else can anyone get decent programming, free of charge, without paying for cable TV? There are a lot of people in this country who cannot afford cable TV, and without access to the kind of programs that PBS produces, kids will be stuck watching only the garbage on free-to-air channels. I am not talking about families that choose not to have TV in their home, but rather people who do choose to have TV but cannot afford cable. PBS gives them great programming for their children to watch. Granted, these are not the only people who watch PBS, but I think they are a big reason why PBS continues to get federal funding. However, that could all change in the coming months, as President Bush wants to cut the funding in half.

Currently, the federal budget for PBS is set at $400 million – but it might get cut to $200 million. Yep, we have $12 billion a month to spend on war, but we cannot spend $400 million a year on high-quality, low-cost TV programs for children and families. Families of all ages, all ethnic groups, and all economic strata, benefit from the programming on PBS. Personally, I would rather let my kids watch PBS all day instead of these other cartoon channels that are full of violence and ads for crappy toys and food.

Most of the funding for all the shows on PBS come from private parties; the $400 million is just a drop in the bucket. I grew up on Sesame Street & Mr. Rogers thanks to PBS – I hope my kids get to as well.

So what do you think? Do you think our government should give $400 million a year for PBS?

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Comments (19)

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  1. akb says:

    Personally, the $400 million figure is embarassing. Most other major industrialized countries subsidize public broadcasting to a much greater degree, somewhere on the order of 5-10x more per capita. And it shows, just listen or watch the CBC or BBC, it is much better quality and does a much better of serving the society.

    Perhaps even more important that the amount of money is that the funding is dedicated, it doesn’t come out of general funds so that extremist politicians can play games because they didn’t like something they saw on public TV. In the UK there’s a tax on radios and TVs which is dedicated to funding the BBC, which is relatively well isolated from political interference.

  2. Jeremy says:

    That is a real shame. I love public TV and radio.

  3. FFB says:

    I’m all for federal funding for PBS. From Sesame Street to Charlie Rose there are great shows for anyone to watch (I watch both of those BTW). I could see why the gov’t would cut their funding as some of their stuff could be controversial and they are ad supported as well but I’ still rather see money go to PBS than the war or any number of budget waste.

  4. Yan says:

    David, could you reference the source? Thanks

  5. The current administration and its party have been trying to get rid of NPR and PBS since it took office. That’s why we get to enjoy advertising on our publicly supported programming. This looks like one more attempt to establish our President’s honorable “legacy.”


  6. david says:

    I agree 100% Funny…

  7. Flexo says:

    I fully agree, public broadcasting should continue to receive federal funds supported by taxes. It’s not just about getting television programs to individuals who can’t afford cable, it’s about the importance of arts, humanities, and non-corporate opinions to any culture.

  8. David says:

    And I am afraid that the more $ that gets cut from their budget, the more corporate opinions will start sneaking into the shows, which will be too bad.

  9. Dawn says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, especially with the comment by Flexo above. As the mother of two small children, the PBS shows really are great, but the programs like Masterpiece really stand apart from commercial programming.

    If you can afford cable (and we can), there are other options for kids shows (Noggin and the Comcast-PBS partnership called Sprout are both commercial free), but nothing really beats Sesame Street in my opinion (although, my 4 year old would argue vociferously for Word World).

    You are also right about PBS and NPR taking on influences as the budgets are gutted and it is a shame. I definitely think that the NPR reporters are almost right leaning at times, lest they be accused of being liberals whose funding should be taken away. I’d no doubt do the same if I were them.

  10. That’s why we as the viewing public need to step up and try to cover the shortfall. I know our local PBS station goes through a membership drive about every 6 months and they don’t always make enough. If you like PBS, please donate! And if you really want to help, donate and decline the membership benefit since that comes directly out of what they would have earned from you.

  11. Beth says:

    YES . . . and then some. I am a huge fan of public radio and television. PBS is the only channel my children watch and I spend as much time as possible listening to NPR. These are worthwhile and educational programs and a refreshing break from embarrassing mainstream media.

  12. Ditto Caveman and Beth! Send money. And if you listen to podcasts of NPR stations outside your area (I listen to Vermont Public Radio all the time, because our local classical music station is given to John Philip Sousa marches), send some support to those stations, too.

    Also, I’ve arranged my will so that if all my heirs predecease me, the estate goes to NPR.

  13. I believe the federal government should definitely include $400 Million to keep PBS up. PBS has some great programming and if it is forced to shut down, that would be a big shame.

  14. […] Should Public Broadcasting Receive Federal Dollars at My Two Dollars. It’s a shame that the government is trying to cut the budget on public broadcasting. […]

  15. Ed says:

    You cite children’s programming and of course most people would support that. However, PBS is full of very liberal programming and virtually cuts out most moderate or conservative views. The argument against tax funding is that the programming does not reflect the balanced views of the public at large and taxpayers should not be funding one point of view – liberalism. It would be like taxpayers funding Rush Limbaugh’s radio show and I’m sure you wouldn’t agree with that now would you?

  16. david says:

    You are right – the arts and Sesame Street are incredibly liberal. The last time I checked, there wasn’t any racist or bigoted or drug addicted hosts on PBS, but I could be wrong.

  17. Sandra in Nebraska says:

    Hell yeah they should get it! I love PBS and Jim Lehrer is the most factual newsbroadcast I’ve seen bar none. My parents have never had cable and they watch PBS more than any other station. I used to buy the big lies told about PBS back when I was a “reich-winger” but started letting my child watch the children’s programming….eventually I’d be busy and forget to turn the station and saw a little bit of Jim Lehrer…then I watched a few more of their other programs. PBS tells the truth and the facts. That’s why they’re “labeled” “liberal” because facts (which you can independently verify) bother the far-right so one of their missions is to shut PBS down. — Don’t buy it people! I give PBS money these days when they do their drives. And by the way, liberal isn’t a dirty word after all; it’s a position on the political spectrum just like conservative. And either side can go too far; moderate is actually the best place to be imo.

  18. Sandra in Nebraska says:

    Oh yeah, after I started watching PBS again I was no longer “afraid” to listen to NRP; great station, the only decent one I can get on my car radio. The four regional stations in my area are all owned by one family (which it took me a little time to track down cause they sure don’t tell their listeners that and they use different call letters for each station). Anyway I got suspicious when the same programs were on all 4 stations (all the well know conservative hosts mind you). They [conservative leadership] wants not just a peice of the American pie but the whole pie..

    Anyway NRP has some talking programs but they play the most beautiful classical music throughout the day here and sometimes they play celtic music (very pretty). I love those Prairie Home Companion shows too even though I’m not a regular listener.