Watching PBS

As the media landscape continues to change, I have often wondered if Public Television has outlived its purpose.  Back in the days when there were only a limited number of TV channels, and most of them aired content for their commercial appeal, PBS was an obvious necessity, providing shows that aimed to provide culture and education that viewers could not find on advertiser-dependant Network TV and local channels.  Now, with hundreds of channels available, people have many more viewing options, with networks dedicated to a wide range of diverse topics.  You no longer need to tune in to PBS to see cooking shows, children's programming, documentaries, foreign shows, old classics, concerts, etc. 

But not everyone has cable or satellite television.  PBS still serves a valuable niche.  A few great programs are on Public Television and nowhere else. 

Great Performances: Macbeth was a well-made TV version of the stage play starring Patrick Stewart in a modern retelling of William Shakespeare's tragedy.

The Tenth Inning was Ken Burns' two-part sequel to his lauded Baseball documentary, which explored the history of America's pastime.  The new show highlighted developments in the sport during the last two decades.

God in America is a documentary that looks "inside the tumultuous history of the intersection of religion and public life" in the United States.

Shows like these still would not air on Network Television.  They might find a home on some pay channel, but PBS allows anyone with a TV to see them for free. 

As media continue to evolve and folks watch television content on computers and mobile devices, I think PBS will need to evolve as well.  But in the meantime, Public TV still serves a purpose and should be supported.

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