ERIC Number: ED373381
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
The 1992 PBS Funding Debate: How Much Diversity Is America Willing To Pay for?
The meaning of "diversity" was at the core of the U.S. Senate debate of 1991-92 concerning continued Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) funding, a debate that was both reported on and fueled by a parallel discourse on the topic in the popular press. Ideas about the diversity of programming fell into three sub-dimensions: (1) political diversity, along traditional liberal/conservative lines; (2) cultural diversity, in terms of speaker attributes and depictions of minorities; and (3) media outlet diversity, chiefly involving a comparison between programming and cable/commercial programs. Charges of media bias were leveled by both right and left. Some felt that the audience for educational programs (such as those about history, nature, or science) is duplicated on cable stations like A&E. To counter, others pointed out the popularity of PBS children's programs like "Sesame Street"--watched in most Hispanic and African-American households with children, as well as in schools and daycare centers. A parallel debate questioned whether the "elitists" were those who support or oppose government subsidies for public broadcasting. Advocates asked how much diversity can be afforded in a time of economic decline. Evidence suggests that the financial dimension of the argument was an ersatz one, a cover for the more explicitly content-specific complaints about PBS programming. The value of PBS is found in its fusion of its somewhat contradictory roles as a source of both diversity and national unity, in its niche as the "people's" network. (Contains 54 notes.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Controversial Materials; Media Coverage; Public Broadcasting Service; Senate; Socioeconomic Diversity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western States Communication Association (Albuquerque, NM, February 12-16, 1993).