It's time to cut PBS funding

I love PBS! I grew up with “Sesame Street” and “Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood;” I ardently watch “American Experience,” “Frontline,” “PBS Newshour” and “Masterpiece Theatre.”

However, it is absurd that $430 million is annually anointed to PBS when the federal government is $18 trillion in debt. PBS could be self-sufficient, though, if it makes one small concession: initiating in-programming commercials.

The average cost for a 30-second TV commercial on ESPN is about $54,415. PBS has the most popular documentaries, popular children’s shows and “Masterpiece,” which is considered the American point of access to British television. As a result, PBS will be able to charge about as much as ESPN. To replace its $430 million in funding, 7,902 30-second commercial slots would be necessary, found by dividing $430 million by the standard $54,425 set by ESPN. If we divide that by 365 days a year, it means that PBS will have to show a little more than 10 minutes of commercials each day in order to be able to be self-sufficient.

When “Downton Abbey” airs on PBS in January, millions of people, myself included, are going to tune in, and a lot of money could be generated by having one or two commercials in the middle of each episode. As much as I love “Downton Abbey,” I would rather endure 10 minutes of commercials than have the federal government continuously borrow money to pay for subsidies that I can’t afford.

During the 2012 presidential election, candidate Mitt Romney exclaimed, “I’m sorry, were going to have to cut funding for PBS; I love Big Bird … but I am not going to keep borrowing money from China to pay for it.” While I think he should not have mentioned Big Bird, he is right about how China owns $1.2 billion in U.S. bonds; China should not have that influence over us.

Zachary Andrews is a junior in the School of Public Affairs.  

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