Posts tagged ‘TV Networks’

04/26/2012

Romney is Threat to Public Broadcasting

In the era of Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who terminated public employee collective bargaining rights as soon as he took office, the public must now take seriously every aspect of political party platforms, (routinely ignored in the past), and must actually listen to passing campaign comments, since successful candidates now appear willing to carry them out.

ROMNEY’S PLEDGE: In this new era of extremism, be advised that at a Republican Debate held on Dec. 8, 2011, Gov. Romney promised to eliminate the Public Broadcasting Corporation. His pledge poses a serious threat to democracy, as it would terminate one of our only remaining sources of reliable information.

PBS VALUE: Some of us, who have never received a penny from tax dollars, view Public Broadcasting as the only thing of value ever appropriated by the federal government. While Washington continues to waste billions on military operations overseas, Public TV and Public Radio are continually forced to run bake sales (so to speak), to maintain their relatively modest operations.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? We have to take seriously the right-wing agenda. If like me, you listen to Wisconsin Public Radio, and watch the News Hour, and the BBC, both on Public Broadcasting (PBS), what will you do, and where will you go for reliable information, if a Republican-controlled Congress teams up with Romney to defund the Public Broadcasting Corporation?

RADIO: First of all, radios would go silent, not only in my house and car, but in yours as well. No intelligent person would spend their time listening to right-wing rants from Rush Limbaugh, Don Imus, or other wing nuts on AM radio. Are there any moderates or left-wingers on radio? If they exist, I am sorry I missed them.

NETWORK NEWS: Where would people go on TV for the Evening News, without PBS? I have not tuned into the Nightly News on CBS, NBC, or ABC for over 30 years. Does anyone still watch entertainment news? I know Katie Couric exists, because I heard the empty-headed Sarah Palin complain about her, but I wouldn’t be able to say which network she works for.

When Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer founded the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour on PBS over 30 years ago, they did so because the corporate networks were broadcasting nothing but superficial entertainment, based almost entirely on film clips. “If it bleeds, it leads,” they would say. Never mind the absence of national or international importance. Burning buildings and action scenes always trumped talking intelligent heads. But we learned nothing from emotional scenes of people expressing anger or sadness. We just wanted plain old Walter Cronkite style talking heads to give us news and information. We wanted people like Ray Suarez, currently on PBS, who is as sharp as a tack.

SUNDAY MORNING: While NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning is a hard-hitting objective news report hosted by David Gregory, the ABC alternative anchored by George Stephanophoulos, appears more interested in the Sunday funnies, than serious international coverage of the sort Christiane Amanpour previously provided. I nevertheless watch, even though ABC has long been dominated by the conservative George Will.

FOX: If Romney thinks removing public broadcasting will cause us to turn to the Fox Propaganda Network (FPN), he needs his head examined. Any network with pinheads like Bill O’Reilly, right-wingers like Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter, and certifiable nut jobs like Glen Beck, cannot be serious. The truth is Fox is a partisan network, where the news is not reported accurately. If PBS went away, it would be no alternative for intelligent viewers.

CNN: While CNN is a choice on election nights when political junkies scan back and forth looking for different stories, no one knows for sure if they will be reporting serious news, or fluffy stuff of the sort carried on the networks.  While Fareed Zakaria may host an excellent discussion, as soon as caustic characters like Lou Dobbs appear to just blabber about this or that, the station has to be changed.

AM-MSNBC: I cannot watch “Morning Joe” on MSNBC since it is hosted by Joe Scarborough, a former Republican Congressman, whose daily opinions go unchallenged by his co-host.

PM-MSNBC: While the evening lineup at MSNBC carries quality programming hosted by Ed Schultz, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’Donnell, they are not news, but rather editorial.

C-SPAN occasionally provides live coverage of current events.

HBO: While Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, and Bill Press would be excellent alternatives for opinion, most viewers never see them, as their shows are apparently on HBO or other premium stations, and not part of the already overpriced ordinary cable.

SOME CONSERVATIVES ARE OK: Responsible media conservatives are fine. The problem is there are not enough of them.  Pat Buchanan has usually been an interesting and respectful guest. The Friday analysis on PBS by conservative columnist David Brooks, pitted against Mark Shields, has always been worth watching. Paul Gigot and George Will also know how to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

President Obama said in a speech on May 19, 2011 legitimate democracy needs an informed citizenry. He was correct. Democracy is not worth much if the public has no reliable source of information. PBS radio and television do a fairly good job and we need more of this sort of broadcasting, not less.

Romney’s pledge to end the Public Broadcasting Corporation is a bad idea, and I am afraid that if the Republicans take over the Senate in 2012, and gain control of both houses, Romney as President would be obligated to his right-wing to carry out his campaign promise and the people will lose an important source of information.

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08/02/2011

Cable TV Could Be So Much Better

When I was young, the TV set was known as a “black and white,” because nothing was broadcast in color, until 1964. “Rabbit ears” sat on top of it, so we could receive of one of the three VHF Milwaukee stations. We could also get one UHF channel, but the picture quality was grey and fuzzy, and frankly not very good.

The three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, had regular programs that allowed us to plan our TV viewing. The Green Bay Packers always kicked off their weekly game on Sunday, at Noon. The Johnny Carson Show started at 10:30 p.m. Most prime time entertainment comedies ran new episodes in their usual weekly half hour slots, the entire season from Sep. through May.

The major networks also carried a certain amount of educational programming. 60 Minutes first aired in 1968. The Sunday morning lineup included Face the Nation (CBS) and Meet the Press (NBC). In those days, networks adhered to quality standards. Facts were distinguished from opinion. People needed credentials to appear before national audiences. They behaved while on TV. No one shouted down, cut off, or interrupted other guests. The best part about TV in the day was that it was free.

Cable TV gradually replaced the old-style of broadcasting. While it made TV reception better, particularly in rural areas where there had been no broadcast signals, the quality of programming went down, despite additional stations, since most new ones carried nothing worth watching, and competition weakened the networks.

On the plus side, ABC, CBS and NBC remained on the air. Although PBS is still shown, they are routinely threatened with extinction by Congress. I like it when cable offers the BBC, because American networks are weak as to international news. The Weather Channel comes in handy in a storm. CSPAN is a plus when Congress is debating something important. The History Channel occasionally has a good story, and Discovery once in a while carries solid science. The Travel Channel is sometimes educational. MSNBC was needed to counterbalance Fox, the Republican network, and to replace CNN, which inconsistently jumped from serious news, to frivolous stuff.

But cable could be so much better, if consumers were allowed to pick a minimum basic lineup of 12 stations, for $1 per channel. I would select PBS, BBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, the Weather Channel, C-Span, C-Span-2, ESPN and the Big Ten Network. After purchasing a basic 12-pack, consumers could then select additional stations, again for $1 each. I would add History, Travel and Discovery, bringing my total to $15. I might also add a few movie channels, depending what they carried, for $1 sums.

We currently subsidize many stations not worth watching with our monthly payments. By allowing consumers to choose, we could remove most of the junk from cable, as several stations would find themselves without enough viewers. Why should I be forced to subsidize Fox, the Republican political network? Does anyone really watch religious programming? Degenerate entertainment like the hideous Jerry Springer Show, where people swear and throw chairs would die. How many Sci-Fi ax murderers do we need? Dumb Hollywood-types, like Paris Hilton, Ozzie Osborn, and the Kardashians, who have never done anything to deserve TV attention, would come to an end.

Viewers are smarter than cable companies assume, and most would turn to quality programs. We should let consumers choose their cable shows via their pocketbooks and improve TV viewing.