Cultural Revolutions

PBS Hucksters

PBS hucksters Biff and Muffy bleated "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" from my TV and radio a couple of weeks back. They're volunteers who run infomercial plead-athons on WTAX (KTAX west of the Mississippi). Looking weary after a dreadful day in the operating room or maybe on the trading floor— and even though their Pierre Gardins were rumpled and Paco Rabanne was fading—Muffy and Biff still found selfless time to honk the usual high-minded bluster about quality, variety, diversity, excellence, and community service, not to mention motherhood, hot dogs, and the crumminess of commercial broadcasting.

Great stuff, huh? Quick, name one regular show that's produced by PBS in your town. Now ask your friends if they can. No, not Sesame Street, not Nova, something locally produced for all of those bucks. What is this tony team praising? Fact—PBS is where thousands of people get paid to entertain hundreds of viewers with a grant from our children—make-work for Ivy League semiotics majors. In fact, Nielsen's data show that the 196 licensed PBS stations are primarily sitters for preschoolers and the aged.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "BBS's numbers are dwarfed by its commercial network competitors. Its top-rated show [last] fall was the farewell movie of I'll Fly Away, which didn't attract enough viewers to survive on NBC. The 5.2 rating,...

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