I just read an article talking about a House bill that would cut all public money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with in 2 years. Government money currently makes up about 15% of the money. A lot of the money comes from endowments and from "viewers like you".
This article talks about how loosing government money would be a good thing for PBS, allowing it freedom to broadcast more controversial programs. It suggests allowing the public stations to sell part of the bandwidth that they control to make up the money.
I love PBS. I watch it regularly. My daughter loves Arthur and Cyberchase. I let her watch them because I trust PBS. They teach good concepts and show characters working out problems. I love NOVA and Antiques Roadshow (and the lack of commercials). I like that it shows educational programs that the other network stations don't.
If the government pulls out, where would the missing money come from? I have my doubts that the PBS stations would be allowed to sell or lease bandwidth, and I am sure there are plenty of stations whose bandwidth is nearly worthless. The easiest way to make up the 15% is through advertising. A lot of PBS stations already use this method, but they would probably make it more blatant. Another option is longer telethons where they try to raise money (no!!!!!!!). The final option is to just not make as many new shows.
I don't know if the government pulling out is such a good idea. The Slate article talks about how it will allow more freedom, but I like PBS conservative (at least during children's programming). The government funding keeps it in line with what the current administration likes. In theory, the current administration reflects the feelings of those in America (since we are a democratic republic and all). Having that money tie helps keep PBS more with the public. There was an episode of Post Cards From Buster that was pulled and I was glad it was. Some people will say it is up to the parents to monitor what their children are watching, and it is. But I prefer to avoid major tantrums, and when a show becomes untrustworthy, we don't watch it any more.