The three “non’s” of PBS

In a swiftly changing political climate that seems to be affecting nearly every aspect of American life, switching from the news channel to, say, a documentary on Antarctica or a sermon by your local televised church on PBS is a good way to drown out the incessant babble. Or at least, it was.

The word is that PBS is living up to its company motto to “Be More” by threatening to yank its association with stations that broadcast “sectarian” content. Sounds like “Be Less” to us. Back in 1985, PBS enacted a policy of “Three Nons,” meaning PBS affiliate stations could only air material that met the following criteria: noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. Noting the irony, Newsbusters reports, “PBS routinely fails at nonpartisanship, and its programs have long been a commercial bonanza for savvy ‘nonprofiteers.’ The ‘sectarian’ use of PBS, by comparison, is quite rare and localized.”

So what’s the focus of this action? Apparently if PBS enforces the “Three Nons,” a station that airs religious material, such as WLAE in New Orleans, which has broadcast its Catholic Mass for 25 years without any viewer complaints, would lose its affiliation.

The Washington Post reports that the number of affiliate stations carrying religious programming is small — PBS isn’t even sure of the number. But “religious services of faith-based groups” will be barred, said Jennifer Lawson, chairwoman of the PBS committee that is scheduled to vote next month on enforcing the “Three Nons.” But lest readers be confused, “The intent is for [PBS stations] to show editorial independence,” Lawson added. So censoring religious programming is meant to be a show of “editorial independence?” Thanks for clearing that up.


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2 Responses to “The three “non’s” of PBS”

  1. TheGunGeek Says:

    PBS being non-partisan? That is just too funny.

    Granted, this article is about the TV stations, but I have an experience a PBS radio station that just shows how objective their journalism is…

    The day before the 2004 election, they were doing their usual coverage and they talked a little about how George W. Bush was doing well with the women voters. Then they put on one of the commentators to discuss why that was. This witch was literally screeching about how Bush had women fooled. Yes, she actually said that he had “fooled” all of them in to supporting him. She went on for a minute or two about how horrible he was from a woman’s perspective and how shameful it was that any women would support him. That was all she said. No actual explanation as to why women supported him other than that he had them fooled.

    And this was during the high listenership commute time the day before the election.

    Their newscasts typically say such impartial things as “The good news is that passed the House today”.

    I love noticing how they seem to switch how they refer to it when they are quoting someone. If it’s something they believe (or believe in) they say “statement statement statement, says Liberal Politician” as opposed to when a conservative says something when they say “Conservative Politician claims that statement statement statement”.

    One starts out as a statement of fact, followed with a comment on who said it. The other starts out with a disclaimer about it being an opinion and then follows up with the statement. They don’t do this quite 100% of the time, but pretty close.

  2. Patrick Sperry Says:

    I have to agree with you. But in all honesty I can’t remember a single instance where the format changed. That would indeed make it 100% But then again, I don’t listen 24/7 either.

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