21 December 2014

On public television

When I was a kid, public television was inspirational. They (seemingly, at least) proved that, against conventional wisdom, individuals could come together to build something good and give it away for free. In the day when only six organizations could afford to broadcast television in a market the size of Houston. For those idealists to be able to stand alongside the national networks on the VHF band was impressive.

Somewhere along the line, though, they became addicted to corporate money and tacky pledge drives and selling DVDs. The differences between public television and private television were no longer very clear.

I know that some great programming was funded by the money that brought in. But at what cost? The loss of what made public television different. If it isn’t different, what’s the point? I would rather have less programming with lower production values that had stuck to their ideals.

When I said anything, the letters I got back said that I wasn’t as important as their corporate sponsors and the success of their pledge drives.

Now, they send me a letter telling me they’re counting on me because the corporate money is drying up. Now, Nova is interrupted by commercials that look exactly like the shopping channels and nothing like public television. The only thing they are inspiring in my son is snarky comments.

Maybe I’ll help them out. Maybe they’ll rediscover those ideals. Or maybe I’ll instead support what they’re doing on YouTube. Because I get the feeling it is that stuff, of anything they’re doing, that will inspire my kids.

No comments: