What does gay look like?

The rainbow flag, sometimes called 'the freedo...

The rainbow flag, sometimes called ‘the freedom flag’, has been used as a symbol of gay and lesbian pride since the 1970s. The different colors symbolize diversity in the gay community, and the flag is often used as a symbol of gay pride in gay rights marches. It originated in the United States, but is now used around the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Something historical happened today: The US has its first active openly gay athlete in professional sports (story via Rod2.0), with Jason Collins being the proverbial trailblazer–he’s actually a Wizard (pun intended).

 

What I find particularly interesting is his coming out statement: “I’m a 34 year old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.” He identifies himself by job (and it’s a really good one), ethnicity, and then orientation. That I think says a lot about the gay community and how it struggles to really deal with those of us who are multiple minorities.

 

It is no secret that most of the English-language developed world has a White middle-class majority. To its credit, it’s also good that the English-language developed world is also trying to correct it and get towards a post-racial state of affairs.

 

In my experience, I have occasionally wondered whether I’m really included or not, particularly in the gay community because I don’t fit the perception in the media sense of being gay.

What’s that perception?

 

Well, when you turn on the news or read a newspaper and see something representing the “gay community” it is most often a white gay male in his late 30s to 40s.

Now, while it is great to have any representation, but I think it’s time that we start thinking about the effects of having the rainbow community represented in a largely monotone shade.

 

Here in Australia, we are fortunate to have Senator Penny Wong,  who is Asian, as one of the most prominent openly gay people in the media, because she causes people to think twice about that old ridiculous chestnut that “I can’t be gay because I am XYZ ethnicity.”

 

In the US, we’ve had ever increasing minority males and females come out, and yet there is still this perception that ethnicity trumps sexuality. We need more people to come out as being proud of both their ethnic background and their sexual orientation.

 

This where being a role model does matter, because being a role model, allows you to start changing minds on a larger scale.

 

While I wish that I had grown up seeing successful black gay men in media, I am glad that generations after me will be able to.

 

 

 

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My father: The Veteran

The current crisis in North Korea has brought up memories of my late father.

My late father was a Veteran of both the Korean & Vietnam Wars, serving in the former when he was a teenager.

He was never that terribly forthcoming with details about his military life, but through references and from what my mother shared, I knew that he was a POW for a significant amount of time in Vietnam (long enough to be presumed dead) and that the very second anything on television referred to Vietnam he–in a very quiet voice–would politely ask my mother to change the channel.

With the Korean War, I know nothing except that he lied about his age in order to sign up and my memories of him talking about it are basically him saying that he served in it and that was that.

In 2003, one year after he passed, I wrote a play called Airport Lounges wherein a major scene involved the lead character imagining what the Korean War was like. (No spoilers)

Although my mother & I flew to Korea while he was alive, we literally were changing planes. For me at least, I couldn’t bring myself to ask for a proper trip to the country, because I would view it through the eyes of a scared teenager serving in the US Army.

Whilst my father lived to see the US formalise relations with Vietnam, he never expressed any desire to visit.

North Korea never featured much in US news in the 1980s & 1990s as much as Vietnam did, but I do hope that I live to see peace on the Korean peninsula, and that I am able to visit a place whose conflict has had such a profound effect on me decades before I was born.

Life is not a movie…no matter how much we want it to be

I can count on one finger how many times I have ever read the New Yorker. I’m not ashamed to admit that to me at least, because the attending baggage of being a New Yorker reader is much larger than the content.

Rally for Marriage Equality

Rally for Marriage Equality (Photo credit: vpickering)

For whatever reason today, one of my news aggregators popped up with this opinion piece from The New Yorker.

The article talks about the relative tranquility and unremarkable atmosphere in the recent US Supreme Court hearings about the Defense of Marriage Act & California’s Proposition 8.

Life is not a Hollywood film, and yet, we, particularly in the media and in the public try to organise real world events in that matter.

It’s understandable, because one of our greatest teachers growing up is the entertainment industry.

Take a look at your average long-feature news report, much like a bit from a reality show, it will have music that will steer you emotionally one way or another. (This is nothing radical, Dateline NBC did a feature about this, and even poked fun at itself. For further reference, read this report from UCLA & Carelton University)

Still, that’s the great thing about the US judicial system: it asks people to take away the emotionality and make a judgement on the facts.

This is why the rather subdued environment in the Supreme Court is remarkable. The facts are that DOMA is unconstitutional.

It’s also why I wonder what will happen to the activist machinery that has been set up around the marriage equality debate.

It’s time to think beyond marriage, beyond the happy endings.

And after marriage…?

Let me just get the following statement done and dusted:

I believe that the right to marry and the benefits that come with it should not be prohibited on the basis of sexual orientation.

The US Supreme Court is currently hearing two cases that could potentially legalise same-sex marriage in the United States. One of which would look at the legality of California’s Proposition 8, which overturned the California’s same sex marriage legislation. The other one, which is the big one on a national level, is looking at the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prevents federal benefits being sent to same sex partners, as well states that the federal government will not recognise same sex marriages and says that US states are not federally required to recognise a same-sex marriage performed in another.

What concerns me most about the tone of the same sex marriage debate is how little of it (particularly in gay media) is concerned with life after marriage equality.

Why aren’t we talking about gay divorce? Because it’s not legal?

Why don’t we talk about the ins and outs and hard, and yes boring work of relationships and the fact that not all of them will end well.

Actors Mike White & Justin Long appeared in this particular ad when Proposition 8 was on the ballot in California. It’s “realness” was breath-taking:

I think that was a brilliant ad, because that is what the reality of married coupled life is. It’s not fabulous, it just is.

I would like to hear more stories about how boring and mundane married life is in addition to how fulfilling it can be. (Indeed, research has shown that there are health benefits in being married.)

Without a doubt, I see myself being married as opposed to just being de facto*, and I don’t look down upon those who opt not to do either. If you’re not a relationship person, then don’t get in one, and vice versa.

But in reading and observing the gay media and gay-oriented social media conversation, the marriage equality conversation, I believe, obscures another debate that the gay community in particular seems a bit scared to have, which is where does gay culture go afterwards?

There are some who feel that we, as gay men, will lose our “specialness” by being forced into the same monogamous relationships as heterosexuals, and that “gay culture” will end.

Personally, I think gay culture will shed any residual Peter Pan complexes as a result, and that is a good thing. (It’s equally ludicrous to think of the heterosexual community as this being monolithic bastion of monogamy.)

But part of that growing up process means thinking about relationships that don’t go smooth and things that aren’t romantic:

It means addressing issues like the suicide rate amongst the LGBT-identified, providing safe spaces for LGBT-identified homeless, HIV/AIDS education, bringing LGBT identified seniors into the greater LGBT conversation, getting rid of social homophobia in media and in day-to-day life.

Same sex marriage may go some ways towards working to resolve this issues, BUT the absence of same sex marriage DOES NOT PROHIBIT US from working on them now.

Rather than reading yet another post or article about  how “everyone should have the right to marry, because it’s the right thing…” I’d rather read about how steps are being done to get rid of homophobic language in film.

I’d rather be doing my bit, not by agitating for marriage, but by helping create a better life for all, and marriage equality might be the remaining legal barrier, but there’s a lot of societal work to do, and we are all up to the task.

We owe it to ourselves and more importantly, to those who will come after us.

*In Australia, there is legislation providing for “de facto” partnerships, which confers many of the rights, benefits, and responsiblities of marriage in any long-term relationship, regardless of sexual orientation. The closest thing the US has to it–and legal recognition differs wildly by juristiction–is common-law marriage.  Where it differs from civil unions is that there is no need to publicly make a declaration of your relationship.

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The Best of The Boxing Day Affair

Boxing Day at Eaton Center

Boxing Day at Eaton Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I honestly had so much fun doing this that I wish every day was Boxing Day.

On behalf of Generation X & Y Americans, I got our own back on those evil Emergency Broadcast System tests.

There’s my take on when you most definitely shouldn’t have a rap break. (Hint: I did a Post-Mortem about it)

Lots of political laughs and eye-opening thoughts with Westralians Rod Swift and Mel, and secession is only the tip of the iceberg.

So much was packed into The Boxing Day Affair on JOY 94.9, that only the best could make through to the podcast.

Special guest voice: Jean Chretien

Enjoy: The Best of The Boxing Day Affair podcast

A Sacrifice for Mississippi

 

 

Belzoni in 1939

Belzoni in 1939

 

I’ve completed 2 full days smoke-free.

 

I’m not doing so for any forced reason such as lower health fund costs or due to a health scare.

 

The reason is mostly financial and personal.

 

I’d like to visit my father’s hometown in Mississippi.

 

My father and most of his family left Belzoni, Mississippi in 1943, when he was 7.

 

When they left, his family likely saw scenes like the picture at the top of the post on a daily basis

 

My father passed away in 2002 having never returned to it in his entire life, something that I think probably saddened him immensely.

 

Belzoni is a part of myself as well that remains mysterious.

 

I don’t know what to expect, but I know that I have to do this trip.

 

Given that my great great great relative Blanche K. Bruce was also the Senator from Mississippi (and served as Sheriff for Bolivar County, which is only a few counties North from Humphreys County where Belzoni is), there’s a strong calling from that side of the family as well.

 

Sign seen upon entering Mississippi

Sign seen upon entering Mississippi

 

 

 

 

USA Q&A: Reconstruction and the Great Migration

Blanche Bruce. Library of Congress description...

Blanche Bruce. Library of Congress description: “Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the most part, everyone knows about Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves and Martin Luther King Jr. leading the fight against segregation. This is roughly a 100 year period during which there were several significant wars, women’s suffrage, and the growth of the US as an international superpower (whether it wanted to or not). An often forgotten (especially internationally) period is Reconstruction: the immediate 10-15 years after the Civil War. A Civil War that in many ways, America is still fighting.

Q: What was Reconstruction?

A: It was the name for the rebuilding of the Southern states recaptured during the Civil War by the US government. It’s important to remember that the US government was an occupying power in these states which had declared their independence, and that the Union troops were not seen as a welcoming power.

Q: What was Reconstruction like for former slaves?

A: On one hand it was good…at least on paper. Slavery was now outlawed, and via several other amendments (the 14 & 15th), the former slaves were given full citizenship and former slave males were given the right to vote. Demographically, the former slaves also formed the majority in many Southern states, and it was an era that saw the first Black politicians elected to congress (including a relative of mine, Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first Black Senator to serve a full term). That’s the upside, but here’s the downside: While former slaves were a new demographic force, they were still economically disadvantaged. Reconstruction saw the growth of the KKK and other vigilante groups formed by former plantation owners–many of whom were also now just as economically disadvantaged as the slaves. Instead of working together, the two sides grew ever more polarised and incidents of lynching and attacks on Blacks grew.

Q: What happened politically in the Reconstruction states?

A: The freed slaves overwhelmingly voted Republican, because it was the Republicans (under Lincoln) who freed them. Prior to the Civil War, the South was strongly Democrat. Emancipation changed that. This did not mean that there was a new era of working together, far from it. Remember, the South was still under military occupation.

That’s the upside, but here’s the downside:

While former slaves were a new demographic force, they were still economically disadvantaged. Reconstruction saw the growth of the KKK and other vigilante groups formed by former plantation owners–many of whom were also now just as economically disadvantaged as the slaves. Instead of working together, the two sides grew ever more polarised and incidents of lynching and attacks on Blacks grew.

Q: What happened politically in the Reconstruction states?

A: The freed slaves overwhelmingly voted Republican, because it was the Republicans (under Lincoln) who freed them. Prior to the Civil War, the South was strongly Democrat. Emancipation changed that. This did not mean that there was a new era of working together, far from it. Remember, the South was still under military occupation. The Houses of several Southern States had to be protected by National Guardsmen in order to conduct business because of the constant attacks by disgruntled Democrats.

Q: What did the rest of the US think of Reconstruction?

A: The Reconstruction of the South was seen at first as a necessary need and then progressively as a drain on the military and on the nation’s finances. It was not helped by the fact the presidents in power at the time were not strong administrators like Lincoln, and were effectively figureheads. Some really only got in based on charisma and party politics. The other states wanted Reconstruction over as soon as possible and if it meant putting back discriminatory laws against Blacks, then so be it.

Q: Discriminatory laws? Are these the Jim Crow laws?

A: Yes, though they weren’t called as such at the time. These laws and they varied a bit from state to state effectively prohibited blacks from using the same public facilities as whites and effectively prohibited them from voting in a very insidious way. For example: while a black voter had the effective right to vote, there were poll taxes (money which had to be paid prior to being allowed to vote), character assessments, and in some states and counties you had to show proof that your grandfather had been a voter. These were not overturned until the Civil Rights Act of 1965. The Jim Crow laws which came into effect in 1876 are considered the end of the Reconstruction Era.

1876-1965.

Q: What about the Great Migration?

A: These days, if any group was presented with such a slate of discriminatory laws, one would think there would be an outpouring of refugees into places where they’d be treated better. This didn’t occur in the US until 1910 and continued all the way until 1970.  In 1900, 90% of the Black population of the US still lived in the South, despite Jim Crow. Based upon my own conversations with relatives and family anecdotes, I can only presume that even in adversity, people can still find a way of comfort. The overall belief was separate but equal, plus the South was still an economic powerhouse, albeit an agrarian one. (See Wikipedia entries about sharecropping and 40 acres and a mule.) What really got the Black population moving was the industrialisation of the North and the West, where they could make more money.

The Great Migration occurred in two waves, the first from 1910 to 1930 saw the movement of 1 million Blacks to the North.

The second from 1941 to 1970 saw 5 million Blacks leave the South.

It is nigh on impossible to find a Black family who has not been affected by the Great Migration, but while Black families moved geographically North, the Culture remained effectively Southern.

For example, my father’s family moved from Mississippi to Detroit, but they remained in an enclave of Detroit that was surrounded by people from Mississippi, indeed my father never lost his very strong Mississippian accent throughout his whole life. (He left Mississippi at age 7, remained in the “North” for his whole entire life, but culturally–you would think that he’d never left the County he grew up in.)

My mother, conversely, was born in Ohio, to two Virginians. She grew up in Virginia, but despite losing her Virginian accent (much different from the Mississippian one), she retained many Southern cultural practices throughout her life .

I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and have a fair amount of Wisconsin cultural attributes, but I have even more Southern* cultural attributes courtesy of my parents.

*A hodge-podge, because the cultures of Mississippi and Virginia are very different.
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More USA Q & A: Election time

 

English: Electoral college map for the 2012, 2...

English: Electoral college map for the 2012, 2016 and 2020 United States presidential elections, using apportionment data released by the US Census Bureau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

For this edition of USA Q & A, I’m going to delve into elections in the US. I will try not be too partisan, but the disclaimer from earlier applies. In the interest of full disclosure, however, I am a registered Democrat and a member of the DSA and Democrats Abroad. If this topic really intrigues you, I would also suggest going to the US Consulate in Melbourne’s website as well, which will give a wholly non-partisan view.

 

 

 

Q: Why do US elections take so long?

 

 

 

A: Technically, they don’t.  After all parties have their respective conventions, it’s about a 2-3 month long process where all the candidates campaign. What turns it into a 2 year process is the selection of the candidate. Because there are term limits, at least every 8 years, both parties select someone new. Generally, there always has been a touch of the old with the new, with the incumbent Vice President stumping for the top job, but in 2008, Vice President Cheney opted not to run, and it was the first totally new election I can recall ever happening.

 

 

 

How candidates are selected differs from state to state, and it’s staggered. In my home state (and I’ll be elaborating on that shortly), it is an open primary which means anyone regardless of which party they belong to can vote for whichever candidate they want to represent whichever party, even if it’s one that they don’t care for. You can only vote in one party’s primary, but every election you’ll find party loyalists voting in rival parties’ primaries to better the chances for their party. The crossing over, however, never really amounts to much in the end, so ultimately it’s  party members and independents that decide.

 

 

 

The first primary/caucuses occur in January, and there’s a good indication of who the presumptive nominee is by April. It was not always this way, and not too long ago, you wouldn’t have any idea who the nominee would be until voting started at the convention. Personally, I miss those conventions as it made for interesting viewing (and it must be said that no matter how contentious the selection was, after the nominee is decided, everyone does unite). The Democratic & Republican National Conventions are always broadcast by all the main networks in East Coast & Central prime time.

 

 

 

Q: Do certain states have more influence than others?

 

 

 

A: Yes. At the convention and later on at the election, each state’s vote is weighted according to its population. New York & California, two states with a very high population are very influential. Even though both are traditionally Democrat states, Republicans would campaign there during their primaries in order to get as many votes at the convention. A fair amount of states swing either way, Wisconsin, is one of them. Even though, Wisconsin has gone Democrat recently, it’s been by a knife’s edge, and at 6 million residents, it can help a candidate’s chances at becoming a nominee and/or president.

 

 

 

Q: What’s the Electoral College?

 

 

 

A: The electoral college is a really odd thing. Some advocate scraping it altogether as it’s archaic and keeps the US from being a true democracy, but some also say it counteracts the influence of bigger states. Basically, when any American votes in a Presidential election, they are not really voting for President–despite what the ballot says–they are voting for electors who then go on to vote for the president. These electors are not bound to vote according to the votes of the state they represent (it must be said that there really aren’t national elections in the US, just state elections with national ramifications) , but by practice, they do.

 

November 2: George W. Bush re-elected President

November 2: George W. Bush re-elected President (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Remember the debacle over Florida’s electoral votes in 2000? Even though Al Gore had won more votes nationally, because he hadn’t won a majority of states, the presidency went to George W. Bush who won a majority of the states. If the population was evenly distributed over the country, then this would not have occurred as he would’ve won in both areas.

 

A core belief of the US system of government is to have checks and balances, and this one way of keeping the power of more populous states in check.

 

Q: If states matter so much, how is the vote of Americans who live and reside overseas counted?

 

A: Remember what I said about US national elections being essentially state elections with national ramifications? This is it in play. When I left the US, I was, legally, a resident of the state of Wisconsin. This means no matter where I move in the world, my vote will always be counted in Wisconsin’s tally and nowhere else. My children will be able to vote in Wisconsin’s elections. If I had become a legal resident of New York, my vote would count in New York’s, and so on. The state you are legally resident of matters very much. I am, for all intents and purposes, a Wisconsinite inasmuch as I am an American.

 

 

 

 

 

Q & A on the USA

 

This (attributed to ) originally appeared duri...

This (attributed to ) originally appeared during the , but was recycled to encourage the American colonies to unite against British rule. From The Pennsylvania gazette, 9 May 1754. Abbreviations used: South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England. This is a somewhat odd division: New England was four colonies, and Delaware and Georgia are missing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I recently recorded my first solo podcast for The Full Catastrophe, on which I talked about the US and tried to explain–in my own fumbling way–how the US is pretty much 50 separate little countries that agree not to attack each other.

 

Expanding on it, I’d like to answer some questions that might also help better explain the USA to non-Americans. A disclaimer: I can only speak about my own experience, and to presume that there is only one American experience is to presume that there is only one Australian/New Zealander/English/Scottish/Irish, etc.

 

Q: Do all Americans want guns? Why do you always talk about the “right to bear arms?”

 

A: Not all Americans want or feel the need to own guns. I am one of them. I’m a major advocate of gun control, I believe guns should only be available to registered hunters who go through an intensive national database as well as psychological profile. My father owned guns and after he passed away, my mother & I immediately got rid of them. Gun Control enjoys varying support depending on what area of the country you reside in (and it can vary not just from state to state but from city to city). There is a strong gun owner lobby in the US, and one of their main ways of maintaining support is by invoking the American Revolution, where colonists’ rights (including whether they could have firearms) were strictly controlled by laws enforced by the United Kingdom. American history is strongly emphasised at US schools and one of the most emphasised aspects is personal liberty. The gun owner lobby views gun control as an attack on the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reflects the colonial experience.  Those who believe in gun control, like myself, take the view that as the US is no longer a wild frontier and that there is no need to feel armed against a dangerous environment. The fact that a lot of American literature and folklore is about conquering a hostile environment is part of the reason why guns hold an emotional appeal over many Americans despite the fact that modern life does not reflect that.

 

Q: Why does the American Revolution hold such an emotional impact over the US?

 

A: Beyond the clear answer that it’s the sheer reason that the US exists, it must be pointed out that the US was a radical experiment. In 1776, most of the Western world lived in monarchies with varying degrees of concern with regards to the rights of the people living within it. It must be pointed out that essentially, the American Revolution started out because the American colonists were being taxed by the United Kingdom without having representation in Westminster. This is where the phrase “no taxation without representation” comes from. (Washington D.C. residents find this very ironic, understandably.) The Stamp Act of 1765 where a tax was imposed on any official document was a major point in the build up to the Revolution as it was seen as a major insult to “fellow Englishmen,” who already were not represented in the British Parliament, which made the Colonists feel not part of the United Kingdom, but as a distinct group. The fact that a Stamp Act exists in both Australia and the UK to this day is a bit of a surprise to Americans.

 

Q: Why do laws and taxes vary so much from state to state?

 

A: States’ rights is something you hear a lot in US political news, and again, it goes back to the Revolutionary period. When the 13 original states were created there was little that united them beyond the fact that they wanted not to be British. There were states founded mostly on economic grounds (Virginia being a prime example), states founded on religious grounds (Maryland, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts), and some that were a bit of both (Pennsylvania, for example). The experience of living under the British crown left most of them rather wary of creating a powerful central government, but there did need to be one, and after one misfire that gave the states too much say (the Articles of Confederation) the current system of government came into existence under the US Constitution.

 

The fact is that the US is a big country with a big population and that different states have different needs. This is why taxes are collected by both the states and by the federal government. Being a resident of a state carries a lot more meaning in the US than it does in Australia, for example. The diversity amongst the states is also why laws vary so much.

 

 

 

 

 

A true National Broadcasting Company?

 

NBC News Truck

NBC News Truck (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)

 

A long time ago in a blog not so far away, I wrote about a future where NBC became PBS 3.

 

Well, let’s take that thought and look at it.

 

NBC, for non-Americans, is the National Broadcasting Company. Despite the name, it has never been owned or operated by the US government or any of its constituent states or territories. (It might seem that way if you’ve ever visited New York City, but hand-to-god, it’s always been private.)

 

NBC, however, has pretty much acted like it was the US’s public-service broadcaster. How long has NBC been around? Practically since Broadcasting year dot. In fact, the American Broadcasting Company (ABC-US) owes its existence to a court order demanding that NBC spin off some of its radio stations.

 

I think there’s a bit of an affection amongst Americans towards the Peacock. It used to be that when you travelled overseas, especially to Europe, you’d see CNN and NBC programming which would allow you to keep in step with what was going on at home.

 

I’m from the last generation that can really remember NBC ruling the ratings, particularly on Thursday nights where the Cosby Show begat Seinfeld which begat Friends which begat…nothing.

 

And now, nbc (intentional lower case) has become hammered and nailed to fourth place, behind FOX! The network that most nights only has 2 hours of network programming. Let’s not even get started with the Olympics coverage which is managing to be successful despite an ever growing animosity towards it.

 

Well, I’d like to offer a suggestion to nbc’s woes.

 

Nationalisation.

 

I know, scary thought, but GM & Chrysler survived it and are now turning a profit, perhaps nationalising might make us love the Peacock again.

 

Television is such a part of what it is to be American, that it seems only right that we shouldn’t allow one of the big names to be a whipping boy.  We allow television programming into our homes to become a de facto member of the family, so by extension, why don’t actually make it a family member?

 

Ah, but if nbc is making money, then why does it need saving?

 

Well, NBC Universal is making money, because it’s a gigantic behemoth that incorporates theme parks, movies, and cable channels (it’s even owned by a cable provider–Comcast). nbc, the network, not so much.

 

So, what I’m suggesting is that we spin off NBCU‘s charity case network from the behemoth and let it get back to basics.

 

Right, now that NBC is on its own, let’s take a look at what we’ve got: A still prestigious name in the world of news and sports with one of the biggest networks of stations in the entire country, but with a programming that while often critically-lauded, seems to still keep it in 4th place.

 

Here’s the fun part.

 

If NBC becomes the public-service broadcaster  of the US, then into its corporate laws and regulations could be written that ratings aren’t the determining factor, relevance  is.

 

Use that wide nationwide network to go canvass the opinion of the American public. Instead of a group of LA-based executives trying to find out what will play in Peoria, why not let Peoria into the programming room from the  very beginning. You might very well be surprised.

 

What about the PBS stations?

 

I’m so glad you asked that question: PBS is its own animal and it’s also NOT really a public-service broadcaster. It’s more like community access television with better equipment, with all the sponsorship ads, it’s also beginning to look more like a highbrow commercial network rather than the non-profit collective that it is supposed to be.

 

Here in Australia, there are two public service television networks: The ABC (note the article), or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and SBS, or the Special Broadcasting Corporation. They manage to get along like peas in a pod of 25 million plus people, surely NBC & PBS could in a pod ten times that size.

 

Let’s give PBS the ability to run commercials and let’s kick the commercials off NBC.

 

This will have the added benefit of ending the much-dreaded PBS pledge drive, because all that commercial revenue now goes into keeping the network running and all the excess goes back to the government which could lead to tax breaks.

 

As for NBC, let’s start by funding it with a levy across all television networks, stations, and cable operators. They might cry fowl at first, but NBC programming now is “the nation’s programming” and they get it for free, perhaps not first, but they get news and sport coverage past and present for free, because they would’ve paid for it.

 

Plus, a leaner NBC, more focused on providing programming, won’t be so obsessed with haemorrhaging money for actual content.

 

Just a modest proposal.

 

NBC Peacock

NBC Peacock (Photo credit: afagen)