PBS budget cut? BS!

Public radio is under attack, again.

It shouldn’t be surprising. It’s a state funded program that doesn’t generate any income. It’s traditionally geared towards those of us who are politically to the left. It’s Intellectual, which right away scares a vast majority of our state.

Here’s the truth about public radio – it’s crucial to have, but it’s not funded correctly. By which I mean it’s not getting enough from us, the listeners. It’s also not getting enough from the state. It’s funding has been cut drastically.

According to an Argus Leader report by Terry Wooster,

The budget includes a $500,000 cut in funding for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Democrats in each house tried unsuccessfully to have that money restored. A Republican on the budget committee said even with the cut, the SDPB budget will have a balance at the end of next year of $475,000.

A more recent AP report goes more in detail:

The most controversial part of the budget was the Appropriations Committee’s decision to cut $500,000 in state funds from South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, said the state should no longer continue to spend increasing amounts on public broadcasting because there is no shortage of television or radio stations.

Greenfield said public broadcasting might be able to offset the cut in state funds by increasing its fundraising efforts.

Sen. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City, later blasted the cut as “yet another example of extremism gone too far in the Legislature.” He said other legislators did not suspect that such a cut would be made so late in the budget-writing process.

“Thousands of fans of South Dakota’s excellent public broadcast network will be outraged by this last-minute dirty trick that will badly hurt public broadcasting, and I trust they will make their voices heard in this election,” Adelstein said in a written statement.

I first read this over at the South Dakota War College, where PP had this to say:

PBS has been a bone of contention for years among many politicians. Why? Well for one, their kids programming is a merchandising bonanza. Check out how many familiar faces are here at pbskids.org.

Arthur, Barney, the Bernstain Bears, Clifford, Dragon Tales, Buster, Sesame Street, Teletubbies. For most adults, it’s hard to figure out why Government needs to subsidize THEM. When faced with the merchandising machines pushing these characters, sometimes we parents feel that we’d like a subsidy when faced with purchasing those darn toys at Christmas.

Point well taken, PP. These educational beacons shouldn’t need government help.

Or should they?

Why fund educational, yet financially stable and profit making programs? Because SDPB does not get any of the profits from Barney, Arthur, and the like. They’re television shows just like any other television show – they are running a business, and that business involves getting paid for their product. SDPB needs to have the funds in order to purchase the rights to air television shows.

Maybe I’m wrong in this, but that’s how a station works.

Branch this out to radio – SDPB chooses it’s programming based on what it’s listeners want. Some of it is more expensive, while some of it is not. If public broadcasting loses this much money – this much buying power – I fear we’re going to see a drastic decline in the quality programming available. Where will the money come from now aside from the listeners and, more importantly, corporate sponsors?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand how important the corporate sponsors can be in running a public broadcasting network. They give a lot of money for little more than a brief mention before and after the show and an occasional plug during the breaks. But what will happen when a larger chunk of money has to come from corporations? Don’t you think that certain shows will lose in the fight to stay afloat? Sure, Car Talk will always be around, but will a news program that’s sponsored by Shell be as effective if Shell begins to slowly dictate what can be broadcast?

Public radio is around for one purpose – to bring the state a non-biased factual account of life. It’s around to be an educational beacon in the vast darkness of commercial television. I don’t have any qualms letting my future children watch PBS. In fact, I’d be a horrible father if I didn’t let them.

It still seems very vague how this will effect SDPB. But it does set a precedent – if public broadcasting can weather a cut like this, you can be assured that it will continue to receive cuts, regardless of how much broadcasting costs go up in future years, and you’ll be seeing a lot of corporate sponsers influencing what is shown on PBS, or heard on SDPR.

I don’t know about you, but I kind of like having a media option that’s based on facts instead of opinions. I like knowing that education still means something in this state.

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Here’s what I’m feeling about my state now.

The combination of the abortion bill and this public broadcasting cut is slowly souring me on this state. My state. I constantly say that there’s nothing wrong with South Dakota – we’re a good labor intensive state that knows it’s roots. The dirt’s under our fingernails – even for us here in the city.

I always thought that considering the groups of people that reside in oru state, that we were incredibly liberal – not in the dirty sense of the word that the conservatives have scrounged up, but in the belief system that we have about each other. I always thought that South Dakotan’s were impervious to the rantings of the coast, that we understood the value of education, of the rights of every person, of the ideal that everyone truly is created equal and that we need to stay away from the slanted views of commercial news and television.

Turns out I was wrong.

This state disappoints me more and more every month.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 2nd, 2006