Rick Bayless from "Mexico One Plate at a Time"

Rick Bayless from "Mexico One Plate at a Time"

It’s a questions of taste, and to be sure – the PBS promos that urge you to support their station by donating to them in your will – are very tastefully made. The first time you see one of them, you might even think it’s sweet. But if you watch more than one hour of a PBS station per day you’ll see that promo (and variations with other people) enough times to feel unsettlingly. You might wonder why you’d see it so much if PBS stations have no commercials – after all – that’s why they ask for the money from viewers. But the truth is, each show has the same basic runtime of any other show you’d see on ABC, NBC, or CBS.

So how do they fill the deadspace between the six or so minutes that are between the end and start of every single show? They do two things. They show commercials for the sponsors of each show, but they’re not “commercials”, and then they show promos for the network. And there is hardly any variation, since the sponsors are the same for each show. If I had to pick between watching two hours of shows on ABC vs two hours of shows on PBS I would say the ABC shows would be less irritating to watch because at least the commercials are fast, varied, and the network doesn’t then ask for my money. The way PBS is operating, they might as well change to using commercials in a more transparent way.

One also has to wonder how they got such specific coverage of these deceased people, talking to the camera about what they love and why they donated money in their will to PBS. Obviously, this was planned ahead of time – and they were aware this would air. Could the incentive to be memorialized like this encourage people to donate? When you realize that PBS doesn’t need the money more than any other network, it starts to feel really hinky.

Does this mean that if you were a loyal devotee to LOST you should donate money to ABC? See, this is where something like LOST does it better – this is why the creators, writers and actors of the show promote their different charities. They don’t ask for you to donate money to their show or their network – they say ‘if you love us and want to donate money in our direction, please give it to these charities that we support’.

Does PBS only support itself? Is your will money really better spent going to them than a charity? They may provide some great TV shows, but they’re not feeding the homeless, giving shoes to kids in third world countries, or funding anything but their own pockets. For as much as you may like a show on a PBS station, would you ever consider donating to them in your will? Why or why not?

This is just my opinion. If you’d like to share yours, please keep it civil.