Kenneth Shinabery, who has worked in film, television, and commerical production in New York City for the past 13 years, recently moved to Germany to work on a blog. Read his reaction to what has been happening in U.S. politics since he left:
“On Oct. 3, 2012, during the first presidential debate, a statement was made that was heard throughout the world. This one remark ignited a response by thousands via social media. Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram were buzzing over Mitt Romney’s statement: ‘I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS.’
Most Americans grew up with shows like Sesame Street, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Electric Company, and Captain Kangaroo. And one would imagine that so did Mitt Romney. PBS was founded in 1970 and shortly after it merged with Educational Television Stations in 1973. With more than 300 member stations, it reaches thousands of homes in America, thus making educational and informational programming readily available to the public. Because of this, PBS is an ‘American Institution.’
Besides bringing children’s programming to our homes, PBS also carries such shows as Masterpiece Theater, Frontline, NOVA, American Experience, Nature, etc. Thus, PBS is a network that the entire family can enjoy. And unlike its commercial broadcasting counterparts, PBS is able to broadcast its programming without commercial interruptions.
How does a network that does not own any of its programming and individual stations bring us commercial-free media? PBS receives its funding from a variety of sources, including: member station dues, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, government agencies, foundations, corporations, and private citizens. Annual federal funding equals $1.35 per American, which is just a drop in the bucket. Additionally, producers are able to seek production funding through PBS. PBS has stated that the government appropriation ‘equals about 15 percent of our system’s revenues.’ However, PBS has pointed out that for some of the smaller stations, it amounts to 40 or 50 percent of their budgets. Thus, a cut to funding to PBS would mean several stations in rural areas would go off the air, according to Paula Kerger, PBS chief executive.
In essence, those that would hurt the most from cuts to PBS are the children. Many children have the ability to attend nursery school. However, in today’s economy there are several families who cannot afford to send their children to nursery school. PBS has filled this gap by providing programming that not only helps bring education into the home, but stimulates the desire to learn and prepares children for school. Public broadcasting maintains that it has the best interests of children as its sole objective.
Because Big Bird was referenced during the debate, Saturday Night Live had Big Bird as a guest for his response. Big Bird then said, ‘My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?’ In true form of a character that is supposed to be 6 years old, his innocence showed through. This statement probably even holds true with many of his young viewers.
Like many Americans, I grew up with PBS and truly support their efforts to provide programming that is not only educational, but has moral lessons. Having worked in children’s programming for networks such as Nickelodeon, I feel that PBS has led the way in educational programming. I believe that they have held true to their goals of providing unique and trend-setting programming that brings knowledge to its viewers. Thus, PBS is an ‘American Institution’ worth fighting for!”
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