PBS Shows its Contempt for Viewers

Television production has been, for years, contemptuous of viewers, demonstrating it with the production of imbecilic television shows, reality shows in general, ‘ramping’-style directing in which the editing and camerawork skitters madly around to keep your supposedly weak mind on the show (even in documentary style productions), and, now, digital onscreen graphic pop ups during programming. But I never expected that kind of contempt for the viewer from PBS. And yet, there it is, in the midst of the new Ken Burns documentary, and during Masterpiece Theater: advertising pop ups appearing DURING the programming. I wrote an angry note to the PBS ombudsman–and he wrote back. First here’s what I said,

Mr Getler: I hope you’ll inform PBS for me, my wife and my friends that we’re all embarrassed for PBS to see it descending to using digital onscreen graphics–really BIG ones, too–during the actual airing of Masterpiece Theater. The pop-up graphic, something about a festival of some kind, took up *one third* of the screen. ANY sort of digital onscreen graphic DURING programming (it’s not in between shows, it’s during!) shows a lack of respect for the viewer, a lack of respect for the show, and it’s the kind of vulgarity we expect from cable tv, not PBS. We will *not* be donating as long as this atrocious blight is spreading on PBS.

This was his reply: Thanks. I’ve written about this several times, so PBS knows that at least some viewers are unhappy. Here’s the link to the latest from me on the subject. It contains links to several earlier columns.


It appears that lots of PBS viewers are annoyed by this demonstration of contempt for the viewership. I hope more will speak up until the practice is stopped. PBS should be a cut above lowest common denominator programming.

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