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<<On Sun, 14 Jan 2001 14:43:31 -0500, Dave Faneuf <tklaundry@juno.com> said:

> Actually it is different when the government is more involved.  As voters
> we can influence government agencies, albeit indirectly, to a far greater
> extent than we can influence the decision of Mel Karmazin et al.

Except that, to the extent public pressure on the political system is
sufficient to make changes in the programming that is broadcast, the
same pressure applied directly to the broadcasters would have similar
results.  As a society, however, we are much more comfortable putting
the squeeze on our elected officials than we are doing the same thing
to corporate bigwigs -- witness the backlash that is often aroused
by organized boycotts and labor actions.

In any case, one of the most important features of those public
broadcasters who receive public respect is freedom from political
interference.  In the U.S. we have perhaps the opposite problem:
funding for public broadcasting is so small, and so distantly
connected from any actual public need that public broadcasters are
left pandering to the rich elderly and corporate interests who provide
the largest contributions.  Some responsiveness is useful, but being
*too* responsive to the contributors makes public broadcasting no
better than its commercial counterparts.

(Contrast this with the BBC, which is funded directly by a dedicated
tax on television ownership.  The BBC is run by an independent, but
politically-appointed, board of governors.  There is a good deal of
information, including the text of the Royal Charter and other
governing documents, at <http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/bbc/cha_index.shtml>;
it makes for some interesting reading.  The founders of the CBC tried
to get a similar funding mechanism established in Canada, but were
unable.  The BBC receives GBP 2,318 million per annum in TV taxes, of
which a bit less than a quarter is used to find the five national and
one regional/local radio services.  That works out to about about $75
[U.S.] per resident of the United Kingdom.)