Television

Obama gives public broadcasting higher rating than Bush

MUMBAI: Public broadcasting is finding greater support from the Obama administration than it did under former President George Bush.

PBS chief Paula Kerger said the Corporation for Public Broadcasting‘s $430 million budget for this year has been left untouched by President Barack Obama, an approach contradictory to Bush administration’s repeated bids to reduce or eliminate the federal subsidy. PBS hopes to receive a further increase to $450 million next year.

PBS has been hit hard by the economic downturn and recently downsized by 10 per cent “We are trying to be quite realistic about the resources we have available,” Kerger said, adding that the network wants to pay for and offer only “extraordinary content.”

Clearly, Kerger finds Obama more inclined to public broadcasting than Bush. “I guess the best way to answer that question is that coming out of the administration, we received full funding for public broadcasting, which is the first time in eight years,” Kerger said. “So I think that says something.”

According to the annual Roper poll, Americans rank public broadcasting as the second most important use of funds after defence.

PBS is planning three religious documentaries for next year. This includes God in America, The Buddha and The Calling.

“For many Americans, exploring religion and faith is one of life’s biggest and most central questions, and PBS offers some of the most compelling, wide-ranging programming on this subject anywhere on television,” said PBS chief programming executive John Wilson.

God in America is a six-hour series for fall that examines 500 years of American religious history from the voyage of Christopher Columbus to the 2008 presidential election.

The Buddha, a two-hour documentary from Emmy winner David Grubin slated for spring, tells the story of the enlightened Indian sage and tracks his biography aided by paintings and sculptures.

The Calling, from independent producer Danny Alpert, is a four-hour documentary following eight people on their journey into the clergy of different faiths — Islam, Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity and Judaism.

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