Mr. Rogers Goes to Washington

We take you back to anoth­er era when fund­ing for pub­lic broad­cast­ing was in doubt – to 1969, when Richard Nixon planned to cut PBS’ fund­ing from $20 mil­lion to $10 mil­lion. Here Fred Rogers, the gen­tle cre­ator of Mis­ter Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood, gets six short min­utes before Sen­a­tor John Pas­tore, the chair­man of the Sub­com­mit­tee on Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and makes his pitch for pub­licly-fund­ed edu­ca­tion­al tele­vi­sion. In those 360 sec­onds, Rogers gets the gruff sen­a­tor to do a com­plete 180 – to end up say­ing “It looks like you just earned the 20 mil­lion dol­lars.” And, indeed, it turned out just that way. Those were the days…

via @webacion

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Comments (2)
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  • Ricky Waller says:

    This video link should be e‑mailed to every bud­get slash­er in D.C. to remind them of the impor­tance of con­tin­u­ing finan­cial sup­port to PBS…Profound elo­quence form a hum­ble man. :-)

  • Tim C says:

    Fred Rogers was a pio­neer as well as a great edu­ca­tor but that was a dif­fer­ent time and edu­ca­tion­al media is a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent beast now. Thanks to the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion of Fred Rogers and the oth­er pub­lic broad­cast­ers of his day edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram­ming was proven to be a viable audi­ence gen­er­a­tor (and mon­ey gen­er­a­tor based on sales of licensed prod­ucts based on their shows). A quick look at the net­work and cable chan­nels shows that the free-enter­prise/­com­mer­cial world has tak­en the ball and run with it. In fact, PBS is just anoth­er com­peti­tor in the com­mer­cial mar­ket­place for edu­ca­tion­al con­tent and they real­ly don’t need to be propped up by tax mon­ey.

  • Mike says:

    I’m afraid you’re miss­ing some­thing, Tim.

    You make it sound as if Fred Rogers was a pio­neer in the devel­op­ment of a prof­itable niche mar­ket for cor­po­ra­tions to exploit through adver­tis­ing and mer­chan­dis­ing. How utter­ly twist­ed. Mr. Rogers’ Neigh­bor­hood was a gen­tle oasis that placed the psy­cho­log­i­cal devel­op­ment and well-being of chil­dren above every­thing else. One look around com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion today, with its glad­i­a­tor-sport “real­i­ty” pro­grams and 24-hour par­ti­san “news” net­works, and we can see what the invis­i­ble hand of the mar­ket­place brings. For many of us, PBS con­tin­ues to be an oasis from the crass and self-inter­est­ed noise that you cham­pi­on.

  • HastyB says:

    Mr. Rogers where are you when we need you now? My chil­dren watched his show evey day and I feel that it con­tibuted to not only their well being, but to the good decent men they are today. Much of the “chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming” today is noth­ing but garbage. How­ev­er, I’m sure it make the net­works bot­tom lines look beter.

  • alissa clough says:

    Hey, I’m get­ting goose­bumps, too.

    And that song is the most intense thing I’ve heard in a long time.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.