Ms. Patricia Harrison
President and CEO
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Dear Ms. Harrison:
As you know, in today's political environment, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has come under fire. PBS has been criticized as unfair and lacking balance, typically by conservatives. Indeed, this past year has seen efforts to eliminate funding for PBS as a result of the content of its broadcasting. However, a bipartisan response ensured that PBS will continue to offer quality investigative programming, excellent documentaries, and insightful news programming.
I have been a loyal PBS viewer for some time. I often tell friends about the variety of programs I enjoy on PBS. From the intellectual diversity of Nova, to the varying perspectives of POV, to the thorough investigative reporting of Frontline, I remain a dedicated PBS viewer. And when I hear criticism of how television serves no purpose other than instant communication of news, I cite PBS as evidence of how wrong that criticism is.
It is with this background that I ask you about the following. This evening, I sat down to watch what I hoped would be an interesting documentary program, Elusive Peace, a two-and-a-half hour analysis of the Middle East peace process. After the first forty-five minutes drew me into the program (although I would point out some factual omissions in the program, but we'll save that letter for another day), your PBS station interrupted the program and put on an episode of Antiques Roadshow already in progress. Do you have any idea how mentally scaring it is to instantly go from shuttle diplomacy to the price of an 18th century highboy?
Being the second time this problem has occurred, I felt the need to inform you of it. Don't get me wrong, I realize that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is on a limited governmentally supplemented budget, but I must ask, how hard is it to find someone who can put the tape into the machine and press "play" while also looking at a monitor to make sure they are not interrupting another program? When I was in elementary school, there was a kid who ate glue while operating a projector. If you would like his name, I think he might still be available.
So, Ms. Harrison, it is hard enough for PBS to gain viewership. Please don't dissuade more people from tuning in. By the grace of all that is Jim Leher, please, please, please encourage your stations to hire A/V people who know what they are doing.