Why I Won’t Support Our Local PBS

This morning started badly. So did yesterday morning. I’m never at my best prior to midday, and certainly not before I’ve had my daily dose of morning ‘Britishness’, in the form of thirty minutes of sanity delivered via the BBC World News from London.

Unfortunately, it’s something of a hit and miss affair. Our local PBS station, ‘WILL’, is run from Mister Millikin’s university. Sadly, Mister Millikin has been dead for God knows how many years and it seems whatever he bequeathed to the university wasn’t sufficient to cover the cost of operating a modern TV station. As a result, it’s always a gamble whether they manage to capture the BBC signal as the satellite whizzes overhead. Rumor has it, a little man with a safety helmet climbs the university flagpole every morning at 4.55, waving a long metal aerial until someone on the ground shouts, “That’s it! Hold it there!”

Yesterday morning I awoke as usual, made my tea and toast, then settled back to immerse myself in the delicate and genteel tones of the BBC news anchor. What I got was thirty minutes of a kid’s cartoon, consisting of half a dozen belligerent little brats and a dragon, all yelling at each other.

Obviously, there was no-one available to climb the flagpole that morning.

Today, history repeated itself. Once again, I was forced to suffer the agony of brats yelling and shrieking in the name of kindergarten entertainment. A caption revealed this “educational program” was paid for by a grant from the federal government.

If I was content to watch the American news media, CNN or FNC, it really wouldn’t matter. In fact, it’s unlikely CNN or Fox News viewers would notice any difference if their programming was suddenly replaced by a cartoon featuring screaming brats. All would appear normal. But, frankly, I’m not prepared to suffer the in-your-face, “we-have-ways-of-giving-you-an-instant-headache,” US media at five in the morning, and when I have to, due to ‘WILL’ not functioning as it should, it’s guaranteed to leave me in a very bad mood for the rest of the day.

It wouldn’t be so bad if they’d just inform the viewer as to what’s happening. A simple banner floating across the screen: “Sorry, no BBC News. Our man fell off the flagpole” would suffice. But, no. I’m left wondering if it’s going to start late, eventually, or not at all. Consequently, one keeps enduring the screaming brats in the vain hope they’ll eventually disappear and be replaced with Michael Buerk, Fiona Bruce, or anyone who speaks English English, and doesn’t scream.

And that’s why, despite their monthly pleas for pledges and contributions, I refuse to dig in my pocket and support the channel financially. It’s not because they couldn’t run a piss-up in a brewery, let alone a TV station, it’s because they don’t have the common decency and good manners to inform their viewers when a program is unable to be broadcast.

I’m sorry, but at five o’clock in the morning, that’s definitely not British.

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5 Replies to “Why I Won’t Support Our Local PBS”

  1. WWW – I have to get up at five. My wife and I both have jobs that require an early start. 5am till 5.30 is a time for breakfast and quiet enjoyment of the BBC, before the rush to get out to work. Web BBC is fine, but not available in our kitchen, where we eat breakfast.

  2. I take my “morning dose of Britishness” from listening to Terry Wogan’s show, as repeated on-line. The two minute news clips are more than sufficient to put me in a bad mood, so Wogan’s occasional wry quips about them help to lighten things up.

    5 am? Two nights this week saw me up at 2am or shortly after due to shoulder discomfort and flippin’ nasal/sinus allergies – guess what I did: lay on the sofa in front of the TV tuned to either MSNBC, CNN or Fox and watched the looped re-runs of the previous night’s shows. Am I a masochist or what? It’s amazing the contradictions (and downright lies) that show up though, flicking from one to another. All part of life’s rough pattern this side of the pond, I suppose.

  3. I gave my TV away but I listen to NPR. Today, my favorite show This American Life was blacked out. He got about 5 minutes into his program of the last two weeks of credit freeze and the program went off the air. Dead air for l full hour and then the radio was again loud and clear. Bastards are just like the rest and talking about rescue instead of bailout.

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