Taking Public Funding Out of Public Broadcasting
George Will argues, persuasively, for ending taxpayer financing for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the entity behind PBS and NPR. The essence of the argument boils down to this:
Not too long ago the Public Broadcasting Service tried an amazingly obtuse and arrogant slogan: “If PBS doesn’t do it, who will?” What was the antecedent of the pronoun “it”? Presumably “culture” or “seriousness” or “relevance.” Or something. But in a television universe that includes the History Channel, Biography, A&E, Bravo, National Geographic, Disney, TNT, BBC America, Animal Planet, the Learning Channel, the Outdoor Channel, Noggin, Nickelodeon, and scads of other cultural and information channels, what is the antecedent?
Noting, too, that Big Bird and other popular characters could generate much more money from merchandising, Will closes by asking, “Would [public broadcasting] vanish without the 15 percent of its revenue it gets from government? Let’s find out.”
Agreed. I haven’t watched PBS in years but would hate to see NPR go away. But there’s no reason that it would. They could, presumably, extend their semi-annual pledge drives another day. Or, shudders, air a commercial every hour.
Michelle Malkin liked the essay as well but twists the knife a bit, adding, “Mr. Will, how about calling for an end to government subsidies of professional baseball stadiums too?” I agree in principle but, as I’ve argued elsewhere, the competition for sports teams isn’t a free market.