By Luke Wathen
President Trump is set to release a proposed federal budget for the year 2018 in the near future. According to an article by “The New York Times,” several federal programs are on the chopping block, including the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
While it may initially seem like the government is simply cutting out unnecessary expenditures, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a keystone for the American media, as it provides a great deal of funding for one of the oldest and most beloved television networks.
The network in question: the Public Broadcasting Service, more popularly known as PBS.
At first glance, PBS may seem like something hardly worth mentioning. To many people, it is nothing more than the station that always seems to be playing at doctors’ offices and retirement homes, with its programs ranging from boring to, dare I say it, educational.
But PBS is much more than that. Children over the past several decades have fond memories of PBS programs such as “Arthur,” “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood,” shows that have stood the test of time with their social and educational significance.
PBS content also extends to adult audiences as well. From the in-depth documentaries featured on “Frontline” and “American Experience,” the scientific edutainment series “Nova” and what is often regarded as the least-biased television news syndicate “PBS NewsHour,” the station has clearly shown that it can reach and enrich audiences of all ages.
What makes PBS so special in this age of thousand-plus channel cable packages is the nature of its funding. Unlike other major networks such as FOX, CBS or NBC, PBS is a nonprofit entity that receives its funding from viewer contributions and federal assistance from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Because of the network’s nonprofit structure, they do not have to worry about ratings, sponsors or any other hassles that shape traditional, for-profit networks. This is why the programming on PBS is able to be as thoroughly educational as it is—there is no studio interference and no need to please corporate sponsors.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is likely not to be cut entirely. However, PBS would lose a massive deal of its funding and likely be forced to rebrand itself as just another network. This would mean losing the integrity and foundation of its commendably enriching programs and compromising fact for the sake of entertainment.
If this thought sickens you as much as it does me, there is still time to act. You can extend a small, yet strong gesture by contacting your senator or congressman and voicing your concerns about the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts. A simple minute of your time may end up making a world of difference.
PBS is one of the last bastions of honest and non-sensationalized television, so to see it die would be a truly disheartening thing. The best way to save the station, however, can only be done by the intervention of viewers like you. Thank you.