In a swiftly changing political climate that seems to be affecting nearly every aspect of American life, switching from the news channel to, say, a documentary on Antarctica or a sermon by your local televised church on PBS is a good way to drown out the incessant babble. Or at least, it was.
The word is that PBS is living up to its company motto to “Be More” by threatening to yank its association with stations that broadcast “sectarian” content. Sounds like “Be Less” to us. Back in 1985, PBS enacted a policy of “Three Nons,” meaning PBS affiliate stations could only air material that met the following criteria: noncommercial, nonpartisan and nonsectarian. Noting the irony, Newsbusters reports, “PBS routinely fails at nonpartisanship, and its programs have long been a commercial bonanza for savvy ‘nonprofiteers.’ The ‘sectarian’ use of PBS, by comparison, is quite rare and localized.”
So what’s the focus of this action? Apparently if PBS enforces the “Three Nons,” a station that airs religious material, such as WLAE in New Orleans, which has broadcast its Catholic Mass for 25 years without any viewer complaints, would lose its affiliation.
The Washington Post reports that the number of affiliate stations carrying religious programming is small — PBS isn’t even sure of the number. But “religious services of faith-based groups” will be barred, said Jennifer Lawson, chairwoman of the PBS committee that is scheduled to vote next month on enforcing the “Three Nons.” But lest readers be confused, “The intent is for [PBS stations] to show editorial independence,” Lawson added. So censoring religious programming is meant to be a show of “editorial independence?” Thanks for clearing that up.