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Made Possible By... is an engrossing history of public broadcasting, from its initial idealist attempt to reshape the vast wasteland of television, to its current lamentable state—safe, consistently mediocre, and as dependent on corporate financing as its commercial counterparts.
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In Made Possible By..., Village Voice columnist James Ledbetter considers the current state of public broadcasting and finds it decidedly lacking. During its early heyday, NET (National Educational Television, a forerunner of PBS) regularly aired innovative and provocative public-affairs shows; soon, however, public-television managers began toning down controversial content in a desperate--and doomed--attempt to secure government funding. When even these efforts failed, public television increasingly turned to corporate sponsors to fill the gap, resulting in a movement away from adventurous programming in favor of politically inoffensive, "safe" shows such as Sesame Street, Masterpiece Theatre, even Ken Burns's The Civil War. Today, Ledbetter writes, corporate influence rules in public broadcasting, much as it does in commercial television. A savage indictment of corporate underwriting and bureaucratic inefficiency, Made Possible By... is also an eloquent defense of public television's possibilities; Ledbetter envisions public broadcasting as a truly democratic arena--and perhaps the only area of American public life not determined by market forces.About the Author:
James Ledbetter is a staff writer at New York's Village Voice where he writes the Press Clips column. He has contributed to Rolling Stone, The Nation, The Washington Post, Newsday, The New Republic and many other publications. GQ Magazine called him 'one of the more astute media annotators'. He lives in New York City.
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