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On Mon, 15 Jan 2001 14:06:49 -0500 (EST) Garrett Wollman
<wollman@khavrinen.lcs.mit.edu> writes:
> <<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. 

There was outrage (at least from politians) when the networks blew the
call on Florida and a couple of other states, then it was publically
learned the networks were all using the same outside source for their
exit polling information, not inhouse data as had been done in the past, 
the response from NBC and CNN?  a total of 700 layoffs announced.  Is
that how corporate America responds to pressure and criticism?  A far cry
from the days when broadcasters were forced to keep "The public good" in


 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.

Absolutely, most of us know which side of the bread is buttered,  and
keep in mind that politicians aka public servants, are supposed to be
there to respond to our needs, corporations are there to respond to the
needs of stockholders, not a bad thing, but not always (rarely) with the
same interest in mind.
> 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.

agreed, but when I say political interference I am not talking about
direct interference from the government, I am talking about a return to
the days when the public owned the airwaves and broadcasters were
responsive, or come time for license renewal a real challenge could be
mounted by various groups.

> (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.)

Are you proposing something like this for NPR and PBS?