- The smallest public TV station in the country is in Cookeville, TN.
- In some parts of Alaska, the public TV station is the only TV station on the air.
- Public TV reaches 99 percent of the United States.
These were just a few of the facts that Public Broadcasting Service CEO Paula Kerger shared with about 60 folks gathered Wednesday night for a cocktail party in her honor at the Lyons View Pike home of Dee and Jimmy Haslam. Dee, who is in the television production business, introduced Kerger and asked her to share some information about what public television will be focusing on in the near future.
Kerger said PBS will focus on several specific areas:
1. Children’s programming. “We will focus on what is missing in children’s programming,” she said. “And that is a curriculum based on literacy and math skills for little children.”
2. Arts programming. “There’s not a lot of arts programming on TV now,” Kerger said. “There’s not really even a place for ‘The American Song Book.'” She said public TV will do more programming dealing with visual arts, theater, dance, musicals and opera.
Regarding funding, Kerger acknowledged that the federal portion of PBS’s budget is in dire jeopardy. That amounts to 15 percent of the total budget of $350 million. She said PBS is used to working very efficiently. For example, Kerger said, PBS’s total budget is equal to what HBO paid to create and produce its John Adams series alone.
The federal funding, she stressed, is distributed among all the PBS stations, many of which are in rural areas. The PBS system is not a network like ABC or NBC. “All of our stations are independent and were built by their communities,” she said. If federal funding is cut, some of the most vulnerable stations likely would fail. The public TV station in Knoxville stands to lose 25 percent of its funding if the federal money is eliminated.
Here are some photos from the party, which was a ton of fun in the Haslams’ comfortable riverfront home.