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How to Rescue PBS? Let’s Deploy Armed Forces Telethons
March 18, 2017  | By Noel Holston  | 7 comments

The White House's budget proposal includes a $54 billion increase in military spending that ostensibly will be offset by cuts to a variety of cabinet-level departments and lesser agencies, among them the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides funding that helps fuel the Public Broadcasting Service, National Public Radio, some 170 public-TV stations, and 900-plus public radio stations.

CPB's requested appropriation for this year is about $490 million. President Donald Trump and company want to “zero it out,” effectively ending all federal support for the sources of an out-sized share of American broadcasting's smartest, most educational programming  – adult series like NOVA, Frontline, All Things Considered and Fresh Air as well as The Electric Company, Word Girl, Peg + Cat and more than a dozen other great children's shows.

So, I have a counter proposal, at once modest and radical: Give CPB the money it's asking for, which is less than one percent of the proposed military increase, and let the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have a week-long pledge drive every year on PBS.

I'm not being facetious. In the telethon I envision, PBS would schedule a selection of its greatest all-time militaristic hits 24/7 for a week. The program roster would include acclaimed, award-winning documentary series such as Ken Burns' The Civil War and The War (as in WW2), Vietnam: A Television History, the great British import The World at War. There would also be one-shots from PBS's archives, docs about Eisenhower, MacArthur, the Manhattan Project, the design and construction of the World War II Memorial and more.

Come to think of it, PBS over the course of its existence has probably the most military-friendly, patriotic network in the video universe. If it weren't for PBS's annual Memorial Day concert telecasts, where would you ever see and hear the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, or the U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants?

In breaks between the military programs, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assorted veterans and current service members and perhaps the President himself would make appeals for donations.

I can see the phalanx of ribbon-ed service men and women at the phones and the on-screen crawl: Decorated operators are standing by.

We probably couldn't raise enough money to make the proposed spending increase unnecessary – I mean, $54 billion is a battleship-load of $25 pledges – but surely with a full military press on PBS, we could get patriotic, troops-supporting Americans to pony up the cost of a few jet fighters or 100,000 hours of counseling for vets suffering from PTSD.

To help things along, we could try variations on some of the tried and true public-broadcasting fund raising ploys.  There could be Red state vs. Blue state pledge-offs and challenges to VFW and American Legion posts.  Munitions manufacturers could match pledges during certain hours. How about boxed sets of the complete works of Tom Clancy and camouflage tote bags?

So there you have it, a rough outline for the first PBS Armed Services Telethon, which ought to draw bipartisan support because it benefits our soldiers, provides tax relief and doesn't grow the government.

As they say in advertising, if not the Army, let's run it up the flagpole and see if anybody salutes.

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Mind-blowing post you have shared for us. I especially congratulate you on this kind of post.
Feb 11, 2023   |  Reply
I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
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Jan 21, 2023   |  Reply
Daphne Macklin
Interesting but let's do what the Brits do. The BBC is supported by a tax on broadcast devices. Given that you can watch television on pretty much everything and consequently access PBS and NPR anywhere, let's go with a $0.10 tax per device. Hell add it to the sale price. From that perspective, the modest donation based on your tax status is a bargain.
Mar 22, 2017   |  Reply
What a great illo! Thanks guys. Makes me think of "Sink the Bismark."
Mar 19, 2017   |  Reply
Best thing about all this is it is more smoke coming our of Trump's derriere since this budget is a Rep boiler plate...eh,pipe dream. Sure the military dough will probably happen(keeping lid on that Scary Debt Ceiling just like Bush43 ran the Lie War '03 on credit and left Obama44(Michele 2024?or one of the kids,please)the pooper scooper while wrecking everone's 401K. The dirty little secret with the CPB scare is that the big cities(like where TVWW's boss works) is not so dependent as the little stations that enlighten small towns. It won't happen-it never does. But those proposed Meal On Wheels and WIC cuts really show the hatred Trump has for those who haven't been given $5 million from Daddy to run things into the ground. A business guy who can't succeed in the gambling business,where the state guarantees you the odds, is not a businessman-he is an amoral fraud hooked on Faux News,hair RXs and burned steak smothered in Heinz.
Mar 18, 2017   |  Reply
Not to mention draft dodger. I have no doubt that Daddy bought Donnie Boy his 4-F draft status. For heel spurs. Something I have as well, and would not have kept me from being drafted back in 1973, when I came of draft age.
Mar 24, 2017
George Ashur
"Give CPB the money it's asking for, which is less than one percent of the proposed military increase, and let the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard have a week-long pledge drive every year on PBS." -- Or we could not do that.

Guns vs. butter. Economics 101 from Freshman year (which is, roughly, the maturity level of this column).
Mar 18, 2017   |  Reply
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