Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What is public TV good for?

The New York Times's Charles McGrath asks whether public TV is worth saving:

The average PBS show on prime time now scores about a 1.4 Nielsen rating, or roughly what the wrestling show “Friday Night Smackdown” gets....

Scanning the PBS lineup, in fact, it’s hard to detect much of a bias toward anything at all, except possibly mustiness. Except for “Antiques Roadshow,” all the prime-time stalwarts — “The NewsHour,” “Nova,” “Nature,” “Masterpiece” — are into their third or fourth decade, and they look it.

If those comments distress you, go to the reader comments, where you'll find plenty of hyperventilating ("In the wasteland of television there are but two channels I want or need: PBS for the quality and depth of shows that exist nowhere else, and NESN to be able to watch the Red Sox."), and it's entirely possible that one or two of the respondents are under 80 years old.

OK, if you don't have cable, you might enjoy being force-fed middlebrow programming by PBS. And even if you have 300 channels, I'm not aware that any of them caters to people with terrible taste in music the way PBS does. Otherwise, its bright spots are so few that it's easier just to forget it exists.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Roland Tec said...

Horrible taste in music? Like, um... Puccini and Mozart? Sorry, Robert, but not everyone requires our music to be of the variety shown on MTV. And, call me an old fart, but I love the Newshour. It gives me the news WITHOUT inane graphics that serve no purpose other than to distract the viewer from just how many commercial interruptions there really are!

3/21/2008 07:18:00 PM  

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