Federal Agency Sharply Cuts PBS Funding, Shifts Money Into New Areas

Apr 26, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The National Endowment for the Arts sharply cut grants to PBS yesterday, instead awarding big support for the first time to various mobile, Web and gaming projects, reports The New York Times’ Elizabeth Jensen.

“Live From Lincoln Center" was one of the PBS programs that received a significant cut, with the program receiving no funding this year after it received $100,000 last year, the story says. "Great Performances" and "American Masters" each received $50,000, compared with $400,000 each a year earlier, the piece adds.

"[F]or us this is a huge impact, and we have to scramble and try to fill the gap,” said Paula Kerger, the president and chief executive of PBS. She called the decision "disappointing."

Other programs receiving less funding include "The PBS NewsHour," which received half of its year-earlier funding; "Independent Lens"; and "POV," the story notes.

The reason for the cuts was shifting ways that consumers want content, said Alyce Myatt, the endowment’s media arts director. "[W]e also know we have a generation — not of kids but adults — who are consuming content online and on mobile," she said.

“In particular, she said, the endowment hopes to encourage a public media sector for gaming,” the story adds. “Among the projects the endowment financed were a University of Southern California video game that uses the writings of Henry David Thoreau; Power Poetry, from Odysseus Group of New York City, which encourages youths to write poems via texting; the Flea Theater’s production of a play using interactive technology; and Spelman College’s ‘HERadventure,’ an augmented reality computer game featuring a superheroine.”


  1. As along-time PBS viewer, I have to say this is not a smart move by the NEA.
    1) Where does the NEA think that most of the worthwhile content for online and mobile comes from?
    Hint: It isn’t from those two methods of content distribution.
    2) Content for TV can be scaled to online and mobile… it doesn’t work so well going the other direction.
    2a) The vast majority of content demand/consumption is for passive (non-interactive) content. Despite the ubiquity on discs and players, the interactivity of DVD/BD-rom features is seldom utilized by consumers. The vast, vast majority still want to simply view content.
    3) The vast majority of people still receive the vast majority of their content via TV. That generation consuming content online and mobile aren’t using them exclusively… they still watch TV.

  2. PBS has the programming and viewership to survive and thrive like any other network. Go out and sell advertising and stop feeding off if taxpayers that don’t watch your programming but have to pay for it. Now if we could get the president and congress to cut some more programs we could get teh economoy moving again.

  3. Hey Digital Guy, send me your address and I’ll make sure you get the $1.00 of your taxes that went to fund BOTH PBS and NPR back as soon as possible. When can I expect you to return my portion of taxes that went to wage illegal, immoral and unjust wars on countries that were no threat to us?!?!? What a tightwad douchebag.

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