[In-Class] Public Television

What role does public television play in the U.S.?

Public television offers Americans with unbiased commercial free programming.  Public television has a variety of programs like Frontline, Nova and Antiques Roadshow.  P.B.S. says that they are “America’s largest classroom, the nation’s largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world.”

How are the methods of reporting/discussion different from network or local TV news? How do the hosts and topics compare? What was your overall impression of the show?

The methods of reporting are not as politically bias as they would be on stations such as Fox and CNN.  The coverage and stories are typically more in depth than segments you would find on corporate news stations.  Unless it was a special investigation of some sort, the major news stories on large corporate stations are typically a couple of minutes long as opposed the twenty minute segment we saw in class.  The topics on stations like CNN and Fox are typically political were on public television if the topics are political they try to present the information from both sides of the spectrum.  Fox would tell you that they are “fair and balanced” but the vast majority of their coverage is conservatively biased.  Public television is much more fair and balanced than Fox or CNN will ever be and public television is the only media outlet in which you will find such coverage of the news.    The overall impression I got from the show we watch in class was good.  I really enjoyed how in depth and informative the story was.  You never get that on any news station and if that same story was on Fox or CNN then they would turn it into a political debate.  Prior to watching the story I had no idea the building discussed existed and would not have imagined what was going on there.  It was a very interesting story and I was influenced by the story to at least record a couple episodes of Frontline to give it a shot.

What are the economic challenges facing public broadcasting? What various sources of funding do public broadcast stations, such as CPB and PBS, rely on? How has public broadcasting responded to these economic struggles?

One of the economic challenges is the economy and the national debt.  The government spends a great deal of money on public broadcasting and with shortfalls of money public broadcasting is going to suffer.  Corporations that donate money to the stations do not have the funds they had in previous year so the economy is taking its toll.  There is even debate about whether the government should be funding these stations.  Public broadcasting is fighting back by commercializing to a minor extent.  They will have to continue to do so and one day we may no longer have a true public broadcasting station.

What are the pros and cons of having more corporate donors, who make corporate announcements before and after programs? ]

When I watch PBS and listen to NPR, they both feature advertisers before each segment. The pros are that the corporate donors provide a lot of the funding for them and allow both entities to stay afloat. Though both highly rely on public funding by private donations from the public; the corporate donors pump in most of the funding since they are advertised within the respective programs. The cons can be that there would be a perception that the corporate companies are running the news since they are advertised on them and if there is some kind of negative news that is tied in with the advertiser, PBS or NPR would not report it. In reality they would, and would drop them as a sponsor. Neither wants any part in controversy. I personally do not have a problem with it because I trust PBS and NPR, but I can see how the conspiracy theorists can have issues with it.

Does  “commercialization” dilute the quality or credibility of public television? Is there a future for publicly-funded television programs?

I do not believe it does. People still have a job to do and they cannot feasibly do it for free. I would hope that publicly funded television programs would have a future. It would be nice to not have as much commercialization in public television for “peace of mind”, but that is as far as I would take it. I know that NPR has been very successful. They have opened more NPR radio stations in the last year than any other type of radio station. It would be nice if it was publicly funded by regular citizens, but there currently is not enough support. Hopefully the success of NPR can correlate to television.

Matthew Herring

Anthony Cantu

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