Mar
19
2012

Is PBS Trying to Hide Some of Public TV's Best Work?

In the New York Times (3/19/12), Elizabeth Jensen reports on some unusual scheduling decisions at PBS that are diminishing the audience for some of the best stuff you're likely to see on public television–the acclaimed documentary series Independent Lens and POV: After being bumped from Tuesday nights to a hodgepodge of time slots, Independent Lens has lost 39 percent of its average audience for new episodes this season, compared with a year ago, according to Nielsen ratings provided by ITVS, which produces the series. Jensen's report–which expanded on news first reported by the public broadcasting newspaper Current–noted that many prominent […]

Jan
17
2012

PBS, NPR Try to Defend Iran Distortions

Evaluating reporting and commentary about Iran could be reduced to one simple rule: There is no evidence that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon. Statements that suggest otherwise are misleading. Reports that fail to point this out are doing readers/viewers/listeners a disservice. That sounds simple enough. But don't tell that to the outlets that are being criticized over their Iran reporting. Take NPR and PBS, both of which were singled out by the group Just Foreign Policy. A few days ago (1/10/12), the FAIR Blog featured a post criticizing the PBS NewsHour for a deceptive report on Iran. The […]

Jun
20
2011

LA Public TV: Less PBS, More Al Jazeera

Elizabeth Jensen has an interesting piece in the New York Times today (6/20/11) about Los Angeles public television station KCET. After deciding to cut its ties to PBS, the channel is experimenting with different programming options, including Al Jazeera English. And the results so far, according to one station official: Mr. Marcus said he had been braced for some criticism from viewers about Al Jazeera English's point of view, but 'most people think it's been very even-handed.' He praised the scope of coverage, noting that last week the program carried reports from Argentina, China and Sri Lanka. 'I would guess […]

May
24
2011

PBS's New Plan: More Intrusive Ads

The public broadcasting newspaper Current (5/18/11) reports that public television–you know, the non-commercial outlet–will start airing more commercials: The move could be controversial for the network, which has traditionally prided itself on offering uninterrupted programming over its 40-year history. PBS will begin breaking into programs with underwriting and promo spots four times per hour on an experimental basis beginning this fall, it told station members at the PBS National Meeting here. PBS corporate communicationsofficial Anne Bentley issued a response that actually begins, "We are always looking at ways to improve the viewer experience." It goes on to say that "It […]

Aug
19
2010

Meanwhile, on Public TV…

Two PBS-related items of interest. -Last year when PBS announced the retirement of Bill Moyers and theinexplicable cancellation of the excellent Now program, word came that some public TV stations would be airing a program produced by(yes, this is a real thing) the George W. Bush Institute. The show, Ideas in Action, is host by James Glassman; as FAIR noted, he is a longtime fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, is perhaps best known for his remarkably optimistic–and wrong–book Dow 36,000. He also regularly penned op-eds for major U.S. newspapers that pushed views and policies that would directly benefit […]

Mar
18
2010

All Smart People Are Centrists–and Other News From PBS

Broadcasting & Cable (3/17/10) spoke with the head of PBS's flagship New York station about the recent hire of Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and former MTV and NPR host Alison Stewart for PBS's forthcoming program Need to Know, which is replacing Now and the Bill Moyers Journal: WNET.org president Neal Shapiro did not rule out the possibility of future synergies between Newsweek and Need to Know. "We haven't talked about anything specific," he said. "But I think all kinds of natural synergies may happen." Shapiro said he is not concerned that Stewart and Meacham, who has been a frequent guest […]

Mar
10
2010

Action Alert: PBS Replacing Moyers, Now. . .With Jon Meacham?

FAIR has a new Action Alert reacting to reports that PBS's replacement for the retiring Bill Moyers and the canceled Now series will be headed by Newsweek editor Jon "Center-Right Nation" Meacham. To learn more or to send a message to PBS ombud Michael Getler, click here. Feel free to leave copies of your responses in the comments thread here.

Sep
16
2009

NewsHour Poses a Moral Conundrum

PBS's NewsHour's Gwen Ifill (9/15/09), quizzing Richard Goldstone on his U.N. fact-finding mission that found that both Israel and Palestinian fighters had committed war crimes in the Gaza conflict: The term "even-handed" is the problem that Israel has with the conclusions in the report. Your criticism of Israel seems so much harsher than that of the Palestinians. Why is that? CBS News (9/9/09), summarizing a report by Israel's leading human rights group: Well over half of nearly 1,400 Palestinians killed in Israel's Gaza war were civilians, including 252 children younger than 16, a leading Israeli human rights groups said Wednesday, […]

Sep
05
2009

PBS Sells 'Prime Demographic Groups to Underwriters'

A Tiny Revolution's John Caruso (9/5/09) caught an instance of the Public Broadcasting System "Putting the 'BS' in PBS" when they recently "took a break to blandish us thusly: 'If you are seeking a unique sponsorship opportunity for your business and want to reach a prime demographic group through multiple platforms email us today.'" Reacting to the crass appeal for a California Bay Area underwriter, Caruso reminds the broadcasters: "C'mon, guys, we're sitting right here. Can't you at least do us the courtesy of being subtle about the fact that as far as you're concerned, we're nothing but pairs of […]

Jul
14
2009

Media Check Insurance Co. Abuse… Occasionally

Longtime health insurance company bigwig and former holder of "the ultimate PR job," Wendell Potter recently told PBS' Bill Moyers (Bill Moyers Journal, 7/10/09) how he had been "involved in the campaign by the industry to discredit Michael Moore and his film Sicko," and now sees that "the industry is resorting to the same tactics they've used… back in the early '90s, when they were leading the effort to kill the Clinton plan" for national healthcare reform. Potter told Moyers that he "knew that 47 million people were uninsured, but I didn't put faces with that number" until he "picked […]

May
12
2009

PBS's 'Washington Bubble' Invisible to Inhabitants

Noticing how PBS's Gwen Ifill has a penchant for "filling her Washington Week program with journalists who almost invariably agree with each other instead of actually debating the issues of the week," critic Charles Kaiser decided to contact her (CJR.org, 5/8/09) about a recent "discussion of torture in which the only issue the panelists identified was how the Obama administration should deal with the political fallout from the demands for a full-scale investigation and/or prosecution of the officials responsible for American torture." Kaiser's question of whether it would "ruin the discussion to have one person who believes that a full […]

May
05
2009

Will GE Beneficiary Censor GE Pollution Opponents?

New York Times editorialist Lawrence Downes (5/4/09) has some good questions about Pete Seeger's big 90th birthday party. The broadcast surely is bound to "be a PBS special made in pledge-week heaven," but Downes has to "wonder, though, how many of the angry moments will survive": Will we hear the Native American musicians pleading for support in their battle with Peabody Energy? Peabody is a giant strip-mining company that has been at the center of lawsuits by Southwestern tribes over drinking water and income from mineral rights. Will we hear the praise for the Clean Water Act of 1972, or […]

Apr
07
2009

PBS Distorts Global Healthcare Options

A recent Frontline documentary (3/31/09) presented mandatory for-profit healthcare as the only alternative to the current U.S. healthcare system, suggesting that this was the system all other developed nations use–even though the documentary was a sequel to an earlier Frontline report (4/15/08) that examined a wide range of international options, including Taiwan's single-payer model. If you'd like to ask Frontline why it distorted the healthcare policy options, you can take part in FAIR's Action Alert here. And you can leave copies of letters you send to Frontline in the comments of this post.