Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Bogus Begathons

Off from work - if not from blogging - today. Had a colonoscopy this am. As with tests in school, the prep is much worse than the procedure itself. Nuff said.

Anyway... a quick thought on PBS, brought to mind by the mini-debate on their political bias that spontaneously generated in the comments section of a post in Seraphic Secret last week. Years ago, when my kids were young enough to watch shows like Sesame Street and Barney, we got used to enduring the perennial PBS "begathons" where they solicited donations to continue operating. Invariably, it was those very kids' shows that were used as emotional fodder to convince people to dig deep; e.g., "Surely you don't want these quality, commercial-free [except for begathons] children's progams to be cancelled!!"

What struck me as phony is that exactly the opposite was probably the truth. The popular children's shows were likely the only ones on PBS that would be self-sustaining in a free market environment. Surely they must sell enough "Tickle Me Elmo"s and other toys, dolls, books, and assorted chachkes to keep Sesame Street and Barney in the black! Rather, it was those few kids shows that were subsidising all the adult programming on PBS. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that the fewer donations PBS got, the higher percentage of their air-time would have to be filled with these tot-oriented cash cows.

Again, I haven't watched PBS in years so I don't know if these events still take place. But if they do, let me say: Spare us the bait-and-switch and be up front about what the contributions are truly needed for. That way, people can make informed decisions on how to spend their charity dollars. Besides, it's not sporting to target exhausted parents of toddlers - and believe me, they have no money to spare anyway!


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