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March 1992


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 15 Mar 1992 10:24:09 -0600
text/plain (168 lines)
apologies to those who have already seen this . . .
Steve Carr
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Date:         Sat, 14 Mar 1992 13:56:22 CST
Reply-To:     Activists Mailing List <[log in to unmask]>
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From:         Rich Winkel <[log in to unmask]>
Subject:      PAX: PBS ALERT from FAIR
To:           Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@UMCVMB>
/** media.issues: 201.0 **/
** Topic: PBS Alert From FAIR **
** Written  9:16 am  Mar 13, 1992 by fair in cdp:media.issues **
                                        EMERGENCY ALERT
        Stop Republican Senators led by Robert Dole and Jessie Helms
from restricting the content of public broadcasting!
TO: FAIR Activists DA: March 6, 1992 RE: Attempt by members of the
U.S. Senate to restrict both funding and content of programs
available through public television and radio.
Suggested Action:
Call Senator Daniel K. Inouye and your own Senators (call 202-224-3121
and ask them to connect you to the office of your Senator)
and urge them to vote for S. 1504 reauthorization of the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Ask them to vote FOR
full funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and
AGAINST all content restrictions on public television and radio.
Background: Republican Senators led by Kansas' Robert Dole are
attempting to place restrictions on both funding and content of
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) which funds the Public
Broadcasting Service (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR), and the
Independent Television Service (ITVS) on the grounds of alleged
left-wing "imbalance".  Republicans charge that there are not
enough conservative documentaries to balance the dozen or so
"left-wing" documentaries on PBS.
As FAIR activists know, hundreds of hours of regular public
affairs programming hosted by conservatives like William Buckley, John
McLaughlin, and Morton Kondracke run each year on PBS stations.
Please see the attached fact sheet on the conservative bias at
PBS for background.
Do not call as a representative of FAIR but as a constituent.
The U.S. Senate has been taken for a ride on public broadcasting
by the same rightwingers who have long sought to destroy any
alternative to commercial broadcasting.
The current attacks on public TV -- made by people who don't seem
to watch the programming -- turn reality upside down.  Just open a
copy of TV Guide and look at the schedule on your PBS station.
programs every week hosted by editors who hail from the
right-wing National Review: Bill Buckley's Firing line and
John McLaughlin's One on One and the McLaughlin Group.
PBS's weekly show on foreign affairs, American Interests,
is hosted by foreign policy conservative Morton
Kondracke.  PBS's weekly program aimed at blacks, Tony Brown's
Journal, is hosted by a Republican.  Hosts of current affairs
shows have say over guests and issues.  Up against these
five weekly programs, PBS does not offer one weekly show hosted
by an advocate of the left.
CORPORATE PROGRAMMING:  PBS stations offer regular coverage of
corporate news and agendas: Adam Smith's Money World, Louis
Rukeyser's Wall $treet Week and the Nightly Business Report.  PBS
does not offer one weekly news/talk show presenting the agendas of
groups often in conflict with big business, such as
environmentalists, consumers or labor.
DOCUMENTARIES:  Rightwing critics are targeting the tiny minority
of programming that offends them: a dozen or two "leftist"
documentaries per year.  Given the conservative, pro-corporate
bias in PBS's weekly lineup (several hundred programs per year), a
strong argument could be made that there are too few documentaries
with opposing views.
The "legions" of leftist documentaries is largely a fantasy in the
mind of PBS-basher David Horowitz.  The vast majority of Frontline
documentaries are centrist or noncontroversial (on drugs,
terrorism, battered wives, etc.)   P.O.V. -- the openly-announced
"Point-Of-View" series -- offers as many human interest films (on
pet cemeteries, twins, romance novels, traveling salesmen, etc.)
as advocacy pieces.  And thanks to censorship by rightists and PBS
bureaucrats, documentaries about U.S. history and culture have
aired in full on British TV, but not on PBS.
While Bill Moyers' world-class documentaries on our constitutional
checks and balances are dismissed as "propaganda" by conservatives;
they never mention PBS's airing of unabashed, rightwing agit-prop
films such as "Nicaragua Was Our Home" (the pro-contra film
produced by Rev.  Moon's CAUSA, which funded the contras after
Congress's ban), or "Hollywood's Favorite Heavy" (which
portrayed businessmen as TV's oppressed minority and was funded
by Mobil) or "Television's Vietnam:  The Real Story" (produced
by Accuracy In Media).
WEEKLY PROGRAMMING VS. DOCUMENTARIES:  Weekly public affairs shows
are usually topical, focusing on current events when those events
are capable of being changed by public opinion or lobbying.  Bias in
the weekly lineup -- e.g. the lack of a single PBS show with a
left host -- is therefore crucial.  By contrast, documentaries
are usually not topical; they come out after the fact, and are
not pegged to issues currently before Congress or on the ballot.
It's easy to balance the weekly lineup: you simply offer shows
with hosts and agendas opposed to the Buckleys and Rukeysers.  But how
do you balance documentaries, which are often investigative or
historical works taking months or years to research?  Before a
producer begins his or her investigation, should PBS mandate what
that examination will end up concluding?
have an establishment tilt.  FAIR's 6-month study of
MacNeil/Lehrer in 1989 found a guest list that was dominated by
government and corporate officials, but virtually excluded
representatives of public interest groups: civil rights,
environmental, consumer rights, etc.  Whites
(90%) and males (87%) were overrepresented, women and people of
color nearly invisible. Scholars from conservative think tanks
such as American Enterprise and Center for Strategic and International
Studies were repeatedly featured; thinks tanks with opposing
views, such as Institute for Policy Studies, never appeared.
Right-wingers like David Horowitz, AIM's Reed Irvine and the
National Political Action Conference attack "liberal" bias wildly,
but praise the "balance" of MacNeil/Lehrer.
COVERAGE OF WORKING PEOPLE:  A City University of New York study
found that PBS primetime coverage that "addressed the lives and
concerns of workers as workers" totaled 27 hours in 1988 and 1989,
less than .5 percent of its total primetime programming.  Of
the 27 hours on working people, 19 were about British workers --
leaving 20 minutes per month about U.S. workers.
CORPORATE FUNDING:  Even on public TV, corporate money has come
to determine who gets heard and who doesn't.  PBS executives admit
that their weekly current events lineup favors conservative
commentators, but say they can't find funding for an opposing
show.  Given its list of experts from the political/economic
establishment, MacNeil/Lehrer is assured of corporate underwriting
(AT&T, Pepsico) and a long life.  But programs offering a diverse
guest list which includes tough critics of government or corporate
policies -- such as WNET's 11th Hour and PBS's Kwitny Report --
have been taken off the air for lack of funds.
With programs offering diverse views failing for lack of money, it
was telling that Bill Buckley's Firing Line -- well-funded by
corporations and conservative foundations -- could afford to pay
Jack Kemp $30,000 for two guest appearances (L.A. Times, 2/2/89).
** End of text from cdp:media.issues **