I was as amused as anyone that Louis Rukeyser, having been fired from "Wall $treet Week" (a program he created), has now taken his act to CNBC and is kicking PBS' butt. But something about the MSNBC.com story caught my attention:
Mr. Rukeyser has also hit back at PBS where it hurts most: in the pocketbook. Three out of four of Mr. Rukeyser�s old sponsors have followed him to CNBC, draining away millions in underwriter dollars from PBS.
Sponsors? On PBS? That's a word they're so careful not to use.
It does weaken the argument put forth by KERA President and CEO Gary L. Ferrell, that
PBS is not about aggregating eyeballs or customers to sell them a product.
Its purpose is to serve the American public.
This, above all else, fundamentally differentiates PBS from others in the business, whether it's NBC or The Discovery Channel.
In light of this, why are 147 PBS stations also running the new CNBC program, �Louis Rukeyser�s Wall Street�? (CNBC allows this, so long as they run it at least a day later than CNBC does.)
PBS is rapidly losing its reason for existence. Even the Star-Telegraph story above, which attempts to assert that PBS is still relevant, is unable to refute the suggestion that PBS' original mission has been taken over by the cable television industry. The Big Three networks have watched their viewership dwindle, and they're fighting to survive in any form. PBS, on the other hand, seems to be taking the "divine right" argument, making few compromises and no concessions to the changing face of television.
LATER: At the risk of repeating myself (or someone else):
There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back, for their private benefit.
It's from Robert A Heinlein's first published story, "Life-Line".