Thursday, October 19, 2006

TV license witchhunts vs. begging for NPR

Which would I rather have -- public humiliation or incessant begging/guilt-tripping to make me pay my part to support non-commercial TV and radio programming? It should really take neither. We should all be responsible and socially-minded enough to voluntarily make a contribution to create educational and entertaining programs. But, we aren't. At least, I'm not. Peanut's papa may be, but, I'm not.

In Finland, there's now a big uproar about TV license fee records being made public so you can see who has and who hasn't paid the TV 'police'. In Finland, if you own a TV, you are required to pay an annual fee/tax than goes to fund the national broadcaster YLE. The license costs 208 EUR a year. I would get so angry everytime we got our quarterly TV fee bill - I didn't like being forced to pay for something we didn't even neccessarily watch or listen to. Or programming we didn't like. Or, it was just a matter of "principle" I liked to rant.

And, the only reason we were paying was because the TV police came to our door one day and I stupidly opened it. Yes, there really are TV police - OK, license inspectors - who go door to door to investigate if people have a TV and if yes, are you registered and paying your tax. See, doesn't that idea get your blood boiling!?

Now, in Dallas, where I consume loads of programming from National Public Radio (NPR), I feel good that we support them. We choose to. We give them an amount we think is appropriate and we can afford.

But, thank goodness our local NPR affiliate, KERA, was able to wrap up its fall fund raising early. At first it drives me crazy that the programming is cut short to let the announcers ask for money, beg for money, give oodles of reasons why people should call in and pledge. The, after a while, I begin to take pity on them. Its amazing programming and they have virtually plead that their audience toss a few coins their way to keep them on the air. They guilt listeners. They shame them. And, eventually, the reach their pledge drive goal and we are free for another season.

There must be a third way.....

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