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The Importance Of Public Broadcast Television

2013 words - 8 pages

In the beginning of broadcasting, public broadcasting was not quite important or seen as useful. Commercial broadcasting was all the rage; the blitz for commercial station licenses went on from the 1940's – 1950's. However, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) did reserve many frequencies for educational television (ETV). These stations were just beginning to be used in the early 1950's for universities and other nonprofits. Public-service broadcasters try to show programming that will improve society by informing. This is the main difference between public and commercial. Commercial broadcasters only care about attracting the greatest amount of people by showing popular material while increasing their profit with commercials and sponsors. Today, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and its 360 member stations are said to reach over 110 million American viewers and close to 19 million on the internet. According to a pole conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, PBS, has steadily been seen as America's most trusted national institution since the mid 2000's. Stations such as PBS are constantly struggling to compete with corporate giants such as ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.
It is hard for public broadcasting to compete with commercial television. They do not have the funding for shows such as Lost, NCIS, Law and Order, and all the other popular shows. Public broadcasting has to rely on funding from the government, loyal viewers, and private sponsors, while commercial television sells spots for advertisements that can sell for as much as $780,000, or more, depending on how many viewers are expected for that specific show. Even still, it is obvious that commercial television has a much fatter wallet than public broadcasting. It is almost impossible to put a show together that can compare to one on other networks. This is why the brains behind public broadcasting have to think outside the box. The trick was to provide programming that would serve as an alternative to commercial television. According to author Jason Mittell, “One of the challenges of this strategy is that public broadcasting has always served as the default home to programs with low popularity, as commercial broadcasters have cornered the market on genres with mass appeal.” (117)
While commercial programming focuses on mostly entertainment, public broadcast programming folds in how-to shows, science shows, performing art shows, history shows, and occasionally foreign programs. This is how public broadcast television contributes in a world dominated by commercial television. In PBS's mission statement, it declares, “To achieve our goals as a public service provider, we collaborate with producers and our member stations to involve viewers in pursuits of the arts, education, and cultural, political and environmental awareness. PBS makes every effort to deliver media content that encourages viewers to become active participants in promoting change and shaping their...

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