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Category Archives: Public TV

How Government Broadcasting Stations can Provide a Benefit to Society

This week’s post will focus on The Media Monopoly, by Ben H. Bagdikian. Bagdikian’s thesis is that mass media will choose what is better for businesses over what is better for society. I agree with his thesis, and would like to expand on some of his ideas further.

My work experience has put me in an interesting position. I have worked in a government broadcasting station for about two years and have seen the direct benefit a taxpayer-funded station can have on the public. With unbelievably limited staff resources, we can produce programs that educate and inform the public. Bagdikian states that government funded stations

“live on the knife-edge of unstable political appropriations and conservative attacks. Most stay alive by endless efforts to raise their own money from subscribers, and are forced to run commercials that duplicate those on the commercial stations. As a result, a real spectrum of non-commercial radio and television in the United States has remained skeletal” (Bagdikian, 1997).

He couldn’t be more right.

Even though these public stations have remained “skeletal”, I believe they still have a chance to thrive. Because of the evolution of technology it has become much easier to produce content. What used to take weeks can now be done in hours with tools like Final Cut Pro. High Definition video can be recorded with a cell phone. We don’t even need to capture content from tapes because of SD cards with well over 100 gigabytes of storage. A relatively small staff can create content that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars ten years ago. Because of these changes, government funded stations can produce higher quality content for a fraction of the price.
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