The Problem with PBS or…Caught in the Math Net

Today I wanted to talk a bit about Public Broadcast which, as I understand it involves programming that is broadcast publicly so as to allow people to view it. One of the biggest public broadcast syndicates in the United States is PBS or the “peoples broadcasting situation” I’ve done quite a lot of dirty fingernail-level, in-depth research into this organization in the last half hour and I think I see where they might be going wrong. They have a HORRIBLE business model. Let me lay it on you and try to follow me if you can…

So they produce these programs using assistance (in the form of monies) from the government and corporate underwriters. The shows, for the most part, are things no one on earth would be interested in seeing. I mean Operas? Symphony? Classically acted, critically acclaimed dramas? Pfffffft!!! Be serious! Where they shine however, is their children’s programming. Shows like Wishbone, 3-2-1 Contact, Reading Rainbow, Ghost Writer and Bill Nye the Science Guy are amazing and could single-handedly carry the entire company as long as PBS keeps producing new episodes. Don’t let these shows go, PBS!

PBS’s kids shows are top-notch

Here’s how it goes, they make the programming all year and broadcast it (publicly) to any deadbeat with a TV, FOR FREE!! day after day, month after month, free entertainment bleeds from the broadcast tower of PBS and then for like one week out of the year, they try to show some of their best stuff (which usually interrupts my coveted re-runs of The Red Green Show) and they get highly educated publicly minded intellectuals (liberals) to interrupt their own programming, flash an 800 number on the screen and beg their viewers for money.

PBS = Palette Blind Sweaters?

This is the pitch: “Hey guys, listen… We hope you’re enjoying these great shows that you watch all the time but…uh…we were wondering. What would you think about maybe sending us some money? $50 or $100 or y’know whatever. If you don’t it’s cool, it’s totally cool!! And actually if you don’t pay for it we’ll just keep producing the same level of programming and keep sending it to you for free. Oh, and if you do the $100 thing (whichyoudontatallhaveto!!) We’ll send you this $5 coffee mug!”

You too can pledge Pearl as she comments on The Nature of Bobo. That just sounded very family un-friendly, didn’t it?

The viewers tend to respond to this awesome offer with a great big “thanks but no thanks PBS!”

They need a new approach. I mean obviously. Allowing people to voluntarily pay for your product AFTER the fact? Wow. There are a couple of ways to deal with this terrible oversight in logic. In England they have their own public broadcasting, government-run company called the BBC. They also broadcast programming to anyone with a TV…the difference is, they COUNT THE TV’s and charge you a fee for each working TV in your home. No lie, they drive around with “detection vehicles” find out how many TVs you have, then send you a bill.

Big BBC is watching!

In fact, it doesn’t even matter if you WATCH the BBC. They charge you because you could watch the BBC if you wanted to! If you have a TV, and don’t pay they come to your door, rough you up a bit (in a polite British way) and then put their foot through each and every TV screen in your home. Now THAT my friends, is a business model.

In the off-chance that PBS isn’t ready for such an aggressive change, I’ve got another idea for them . Pick a couple of outstanding properties, develop them, and charge them for it. You know, like a real live TV channel. In the spirit of kindness and generosity (for which I’m known) I have taken the liberty of choosing their first moneymaking hit; Math Net.

Here, as we say in Hollywood, is the pitch.

Two Cops, One a veteran at the top of his game. The other, a new recruit from the wrong side of the tracks added together to make an earth shattering equation. Using their algebraic avenging spirit, their theorem is to produce a prime outcome by subtracting the negative element. In my version, this fun, math based crime solving would involve lots and lots of killing.

I picture our heroes tearing down the mean streets of GeometryVille, sirens screaming. Answering a call. There’s been a robbery at the Texas Instruments calculator factory and the perps are still there. After running down the thieves’ lookout with their squad car they enter in to a stand-off with the burglars but the stalemate doesn’t last long. Using their keen knowledge of angles and trajectory, they are able to put a bullet between the eyes of each and every one of those law breaking bastards. They save the day with only a minimum of hostage casualties. The show would have everything. Police corruption. Sex. Car chases. Math. Sex. Sexy Math…everything!

There would even be constant confrontations with the police chief who would always threaten to take Frankly and Monday’s badges if they didn’t straighten up and stop being such loose cannons. But it would never slow our heroes down. They would always be out there. Patrolling the streets, taking down the perps…and enforcing mathematical justice. Never by the book…But ALWAYS by the numbers!

What do you think? Perfect right? It could be an HBO style show, maybe a film and definitely a video game, I mean after all, it wouldn’t be the first time that a children’s math based property was made  into a Mature, hyper violent blood bath of a video game!

All in all I just hope that PBS starts to realize what a goldmine they’re sitting on and begin to cash in. The pledge drive thing is cute and all but if they are ever gonna play in the big leagues they gotta start going after some bank. Reality shows, constant obnoxious commercials, maybe a NASCAR sponsorship! Hey, it couldn’t hurt. And I’m very serious about updating and repackaging some of their shows like Math Net. It would totally appeal to a mass market. I honestly don’t understand why a gritty procedural version of the show hasn’t been produced already.

It just doesn’t add up.


Claymation Werewolf has an evil plan to bring about a Nostalgia Revolution for a time when cartoons were actually good. You can find more of his posts about toys, cartoons, puppets and horror on his blog at


Also, for more PBS shenanigans, listen to our latest episode: “Word to Big Bird: The PBS episode” here on!

One Comment Add yours

  1. Lamar The Revenger says:

    NUMBER MUNCHER… MAY YOU ROT IN HELL.. (I miss that game)

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