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In PBS We Trust, According to PBS Survey

That popular blue PBS logo must be turning red. According to a Roper poll commissioned by the Public Broadcasting Service, PBS is the most trusted organization in America, beating out the three branches of government and the rest of the media.

Remember, PBS commissioned it.

PBS came in second only to defense spending as a value proposition. NASA came in eighth. Based on that, an analysis of the survey could lead to the conclusion that giving money to fund Now With Bill Moyers
is a better use of taxpayer dollars than going to Mars.

Among other questions, respondents were asked to rank PBS among six other organizations or institutions. It came out ahead of Congress, the federal government, the courts, commercial broadcast networks, newspaper publishers and cable TV, in that order.

Perhaps even more important to public broadcasters, who are always battling for bucks, survey respondents said that the service receives "too little" funding from the government, with 51% saying the 15% it receives from the fed is insufficient.

In last week's federal budget, the Bush administration rejected requests for extra funding for digital TV and other facilities, something noncommercial stations said they badly need. Without the additions, DTV will have to be paid for out of its regular authorization, effectively a 24% cut in station funding, says CPB.

Noncoms have also been fighting attempts to change their funding. They currently are forward-funded two years in advance, a mechanism to help insulate them from political attacks. The Bush administration wants to put them on the same year-to-year schedule as other federal programs but has not succeeded.

The majority of 1,000 randomly selected, phone-surveyed respondents tapped PBS news and public-affairs programming—Now With Bill Moyers, Frontline—as the "most trusted" of all network news operations and gave top marks to its entertainment programming. Coming in second in the "trust a great deal" category was CNN, followed by Fox News Channel, NPR and NBC, MSNBC, with ABC and CBS tied for last.

PBS's strongest suit was "providing access to arts and culture."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.