Big Bird on the Grill

Bigbird26gun Some bloggers who used to wear old-media hats weigh in on Congress's efforts to slash budgets for PBS and NPR.

"Bagging Big Bird," is how Sally Swift captions her rant against moves in the House to cut in half spending for public television and radio. She's doctored a photograph of ex-librarian Laura Bush reading to children on Sesame Street so now a gun that says GOP points at Big Bird. Expect a vote within days.

Swift, a Philly based former CBS TV editorial director, and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for journalism, writes:

Outstanding PBS "Ready to Learn" programs like Sesame Street, Dragontales, Clifford, Arthur and Reading Rainbow could go up in a puff of smoke. The proposed cuts would also lower the boom on scores of small public stations serving minorities, low-income and rural areas. It's downright contrary to the public interest to pander to special interests by undercutting public broadcasting. In fact, deprive those who need free access to educational programming most and you end up shooting yourself in the foot.

Over at Buzz Machine, former Entertainment Weekly founder Jeff Jarvis offers a radical suggestion:

Have the public, not the government, fund public broadcasting.

The hooha going on over the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is precisely the danger of taking government money: It's taking political money. It is a worse compromise than taking advertisers' money, for advertisers' agendas are clear -- selling things, making money -- while politicians' agendas are far more slippery.

He advocates a celebrity-rich publicity campaign and grassroots online money-raising a la Howard Dean.

Here's a winning Jarvis suggestion: Try to raise money based on quality programming, not on John Tesh specials.

He does not address whether we really have to watch that guy with the scary white hair and beard suck up to movie stars? My guess is he pays his own way to junkets, so he's the lean look of the future.

Meanwhile, more news on the conservative chops of the man hired to quietly comb through Bill Moyers's guestlist for liberal bias.


We find ourselves quoting MyDD for the second day in a row. Live8 is the target of the lefty Philly blog's skepticism now. Chris Bowers wonders how effective a top-down, celebrity-driven campaign to help Africa can be, opposed to, say, a grassroots effort.

Wearing a wristband, sending a text message, and attending a concert seems to be the limit of action the campaign requires. Sounds as much like American Idol as it does a political movement.

Read the whole post here.


Lots of talk how when Apple integrates podcasting into its popular music software, these homemade radio programs will be everywhere. Why wait for Apple?

A program called Bad Apple modifies iTunes software so a few clicks can deliver a director of thousands of podcasts. Reports Frank Barnako:

A message on the Web site explained the programmer's motive. "I'm worried that when and if Apple adds podcast support they will only list a few podcasts that they approve," he said. "Remember, this is a company that sues Web sites that say good things about their upcoming products -- bad Apple! BadApple gives you access to all podcasts -- even ones which Apple might disagree with and never list in iTunes software."

Itunes is said to be readying its podcast-friendly version 4.9 for release within a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, consultants are recommending banning iPods from some corporate settings because the device turns out to be an excellent "slurper" of sensitive information.

Posted 06/21/2005 10:13:19 AM

I'm waiting for Apple Apparently they added or changed a file format to add chapters and images to go along with sound. That movie's pretty long (> 1hour) and I don't know exactly where the iTunes demo is. Glad I could help ;) Banning iPods isn't justified, not for the reasons they give. You can just as easily walk in there with a USB key or burn a CD or DVD, portable HDD, etc. They should just give the real reason, they want people to be miserable at work.

That Dude from Philly
Posted 06/21/2005 10:56:30 AM

PBS is a complete waste of time. IT was necessary when we only had 3 nets and UHF, but it's compeltely outgrown its usefulness. Any good programming on PBS will get picked up in the market place.

Posted 06/21/2005 04:08:24 PM

If you ban iPods, only sorporate spies will have them.

Posted 06/22/2005 11:12:48 AM

Maybe Sesame Street and other shows that derive billions of dollars a year from their relationship with PBS should give them a cut of their revenue.

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