Sunday, May 12, 2002

Watch and support your local PBS station!

Right now I'm listening to a favorite CD, O Brother, Where Art Thou? I first heard the music on a PBS/KCET program, Down from the Mountain, of a live performance of the soundtrack. It was one of those times when I was flipping channels, happened upon the music, watched and listened to the end, and then immediately went out to get the CD. I like singing along and harmonizing with the songs. "Some bright morning when this life is o'er, I'll fly away...."

Experiences like learning about and enjoying a type of music I'd never paid much attention to before (bluegrass) because of a television program make reading today's front-page LA Times article on PBS's low ratings very sad.
Its prime-time ratings have hit historic lows, the median age of its viewers is a demographically unappealing 55, and it is fighting for its place--some would say its life--in a television landscape full of better-funded cable copycats such as A&E and Discovery. Even Britain's BBC, while it still has close PBS ties, has launched its own U.S. channel. And a looming $1.8-billion conversion to digital transmission threatens to add complexity and confusion to the situation by turning each PBS outlet into as many as four channels.
I don't have cable, nor do I want to pay the minimum $45 per month to get cable in my city. Besides PBS programs have a depth (as well as sheer escapist entertainment) that most cable programs I've seen don't.

Technical note: LA Times now requires free registration to read most of its articles online.

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