To the Editor:
The article on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) by David Horowitz, “The Politics of Public Television” [December 1991], is dismaying. I am alarmed that COMMENTARY would publish anything so blindly doctrinaire and propagandistic.
Mr. Horowitz berates PBS’s “centralized control” of public television. What he does not say is that the big donors want PBS as a clearing house so they do not have to assess the capabilities of every East Overshoe station in making scattered grants. He does not say that PBS is a “fruit basket”: the individual stations review PBS offerings annually and “vote” by bidding on programs they want. Local managers are as ratings-conscious as the commercial stations (unfortunately) and except for a mistaken obligation to run some fringe offbeat items, they determine what PBS will produce. It is not the best system, but the locals rely on WNET (in New York) and WGBH (in Boston) who have the staff and facilities for major efforts. WPTV here in Miami, as an example of Mr. Horowitz’s oversight, produces a national business report daily and several Spanish public TV programs for the network. . . .
About the Author