PBS has been running a lot of fund-raising appeals lately. Many of its programs and syndicates are falling on hard times. The quality of the funding appeals themselves has deteriorated. Having station staff pitch the idea of publicly supported television against a backdrop of volunteers manning the phone banks is mighty antiquated. The staleness quotient is rising, with viewers subject to longer stretches of drab programming and funding appeals.
Public television forgets how cool it is. Many of its programs have great popular appeal. The most enticing of them should be pitched on Kickstarter, where they have a chance of attracting a new sort of following and where a closer, more synergistic relationship between producers and consumers of public TV could exist.
Crowd-sourcing could be used to fund more home-grown “Masterpiece Theater” type programming. It could be a tool for cultivating the niche audiences that political, historical, and scientific documentaries need. It would be great to see more American-made historical dramas capable of supplanting imported BBC productions like “Downton Abbey,” for instance. There are so many great American stories that have yet to be told!