I am writing to respond to Michael Sweeney's Aug. 14 letter regarding his belief that the Public Broadcasting Service is no longer valuable ("No Longer Needed"). He argues that with 250 channels on cable television, PBS is unnecessary. I am writing because I beg to differ.
Where else but public broadcasting will you find quality educational television for children that isn't interrupted by constant crass commercialism selling candy and toys? I believe Fred Rogers of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" and Pittsburgh said it best when he called most children's television "bombardment."
But PBS isn't just for children. Anyone who watches the nightly news knows that the vast majority of the broadcast is nothing but sensationalism, sappy human-interest stories and other such non-news with commercials sandwiched in. And the 24-hour news networks are nothing but screaming heads who jump from one artificial controversy to the next without any substance or insight. PBS provides actual news -- free from commercials and filler material. Viewers of PBS can see the actual substantive debate of real issues, free from name-calling and fear-mongering.
If PBS provided only quality children's programming and news it would be well worth it, but it also provides access to art, culture, community programming and other such shows that would not be commercially accepted by for-profit stations.
Mr. Sweeney ends by implying that the Democrats will make a new tax to continue paying for PBS. I doubt that is necessary. But with the vast majority of my tax dollars paying for Republican-started wars, tax cuts for billionaires and corporate welfare for banks, I am more than happy that at least some minuscule amount goes to the fine people of PBS.