Response From My PBS Affiliate, re: Knocking

by Madame Quixote 4 Replies latest social current

  • Madame Quixote
    Madame Quixote

    Here is a copy of the response I just received from my PBS affiliate regarding my requests for counterpoints to the new "Knocking" documentary.

    I am very happy to hear that they actually received and responded to the email I sent; I only hope they read all of it and actually checked out the links.

    Dear (Name Deleted),

    Forgive me for the delayed response to your email. Viewer comments,
    concerns, and suggestions are always welcomed and appreciated.

    In answer to your inquiry, we are aware of the Program Independent Lens
    Knocking. We have no current plans to broadcast the Program in the near
    future. We may schedule it on our digital channel UNC-ED sometime in the
    early summer and will pass on your comments to our Programming Department.Thanks for taking the time to let us know your concerns.

    If you should have further questions, comments, or concerns, please feel
    free to call member supported UNC-TV's Customer Care Department at

    Thank you for watching member-supported UNC-TV's North Carolina's
    statewide public television network. UNC-TV's unique programs and services
    provide people of all ages with enriching, life-changing television.


    J Malley
    Customer Care Representative
    Sign-up for the UNC-TV e-guide on Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 4:56 PM -0500 wrote:
    >Dear Programming Director:
    >If you are going to promote Jehovah's Witnesses' propaganada, such as the
    >upcoming documentary, Knocking, I expect that you will also provide
    >succinct counterpoint to it, in light of the fact that the Jehovah's
    >Witness organization is properly regarded by most of its former members
    >as home-wrecking because of its dreadful shunning and
    >"dis-fellowshipping" practices. More importantly, their written
    >policies on blood transfusions have misrepresented secular, medical facts
    >to promote a deadly cult practice that has killed members and that has
    >caused much unnecessary suffering. For further details, see:
    >] Please, be sure to include
    >that information, with Attorney Kerry Louderback-Wood's well-researched
    >analysis, as counterpoint to your Knocking documentary.
    >I wonder if the show, Knocking, addresses issues such as the Jehovah's
    >Witnesses' propensity for hiding sex abuse within their congregations?
    >See: [ ] to find
    >out more about their secret data base of sex offenders, which a
    >California court recently ruled must be opened for the benefit of
    >Please include the following guests, or clips of their testimonials from
    >other documentaries, in a counterpoint/panel to follow-up the Knocking
    >Barbara Anderson, ex-JW and expose-writer; Bill Bowen, founder of
    >; Kimberlee Norris, attorney of Love & Norris in Texas,
    >representing JW victims; Attorney Kerry Louderback-Wood, author of
    >"Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions, And The Tort Of
    >Misrepresentation", featured in the fall, 2005, Journal Of Church
    >And State; cult-busters Danny Haszard, Rick Ross, Steve Hassan; and the
    >founders of Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform On Blood, ([
    > ] You might also seek other
    >ex-jws from the many chat rooms and Internet discussion boards who
    >are speaking out every day against the terrible policies of this
    >dreadful, high-control group/cult called the Jehovah's Witnesses. The
    >above-mentioned individuals will shed some light on a topic that Joel
    >Engardio probably fails to illuminate in Knocking.
    >I wonder, how much money did the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society have
    >to infuse into PBS, via this show, and its director to promote themselves
    >on PBS? And how desperately must PBS need their money?
    >Thank you very much. I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.
    > Name Deleted.>Another victim of the Jehovah's Witnesses' policies and practices

  • Gayle

    I ordered the DVD "Knocking" so I could critique it with intention to send letters to PBS. Thank you for your copy and the response. Great job!! Do you think JWs will get an interest from people because of the program?

  • under_believer

    >I wonder, how much money did the Watchtower Bible And Tract Society have
    >to infuse into PBS, via this show, and its director to promote themselves
    >on PBS? And how desperately must PBS need their money?

    While I sympathize with your feelings about not wanting Knocking to be shown, the quote above was ignorant.

    That's not how PBS or any other public broadcasting network operates. They aren't paid to show things, like a commercial network selling advertising time. On the contrary, they pay for content. Then they sell it to member stations in various markets (in Oregon, it's Oregon Public Broadcasting). Each member station has a great deal of latitude about which programs they purchase and broadcast; which means that the decision to show or not show Knocking is made on a market-by-market, city-by-city basis.

    60-70% of funds in the public broadcasting system come from private donations from listeners and viewers. These days a pittance comes from public funds (it used to be a lot more), and the rest is from various corporate and charity donors, like Volkswagen or GE, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, all of whom are eager to be mentioned as donors on the air.

    I think including that nasty, ill-informed little dig probably decreased the value of the rest of your message, which was important and correct.

  • Madame Quixote
    Madame Quixote

    Unfortunately, I do agree with you that in asking that hard question, it may alienate the person/organization being asked. That would be unfortunate, and I will take what you say under advisement in future installments.

    You may be right about the nasty, little dig, UB, and I do agree with all of your points, except for this: I am not ignorant of PBS' dependence on public or private funding; I get to see their beg-a-thons regularly (because I love PBS) and have been a donor.

    However, I don't believe that PBS is not beholden to the wealthy public and private corporations that do back them, based upon a number of suspicious-looking maneuvers on their part over the past ten years or so. For instance, they have always claimed not to advertise; however, in my area, every single show is preceded and ended by a slew of "trailers" and irritating announcements for the corportate "donors." That can only be called by an honest appraisal, an advertisement and an endorsement. My local public radio station which is playing classical music in the backgroung also does this, and my church has benefitted from such "advertising" by being a donor.

    I don't hate or condemn NPR or PBS for this; I just think they should be honest about what they are doing, and when they seem to be doing something questionable that might involve such quid pro quo backscratching, they ought to at least be questioned about it, most especially by their many, many, small, private donors, like us.

    In announcing who their donors are, over and over, they are in fact advertising for them, if not practically soliciting. Years ago, this blatant kind of promotion was unheard of on public radio & t.v. - at least in this area. The affiliates would just make very short, sweet, discrete announcements about sponsorship at the end of the shows, instead. Now, they just plain and slickly promote and advertise - with fairly long dissertations at the end and beginning of shows, with heavily image-laden ads for the sponsors. The public radio announcers actually have a tendency to wax poetic about local businesses and individuals who support the local public radio station, who of course expect to be acknowledged and promoted for doing so (and for bringing coffee, doughnuts, dontated incentives and matching funds to the beg-a-thons) . If that is not quid-pro-quo commercialism, I don't know what else to call it. Do you? Again, this is not condemnation, just an observation.

    If you consider 30-40% of their funding to be a "pittance," it is little wonder that you would not like my questioning. (I daresay, if you lost 30-40% of your income, would you call it a pittance?) There is good reason to question all TV stations nowadays, including and perhaps most especially the supposedly public television and radio stations that are indeed desperate for money - any and all money they can get.

    Whether 30-40 % of their money comes from questionable sources is a question well worth asking. It may be a dig, but it may also be a well-deserved dig, if in fact the well-endowed WTS (or any other corporate power with a vested interest in promoting their own private agenda on public t.v. might have made some sort of donation to PBS. If that happened, it is worth knowing, wouldn't you think? It is also worth letting PBS know that at least one donor wonders about their willingness to appear to be promotinga cult, and that we would like to know why that might be, I think.

    In any event, I do agree with the point you make about alienating the listener. I shall try to avoid that in the future.

  • Madame Quixote
    Madame Quixote

    A perfect example of why such questions, however irritating they may be, might need to be asked:

    Monitor archives: </form>
    Copyrighted material

    Ken Tomlinson Just The Tip Of CPB's Scandal

    by Michael Winship

    Destroying PBS
    Gentle audience, last spring, at the cliffhanger end of our season finale, public broadcasting was in a pickle. Conservative House Republicans were threatening to cut $100 million from the budget of the nonprofit, federally financed Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the largest single funder of American public television and radio.

    Around the same time, it was revealed that, without telling his board, CPB Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson had paid a conservative media consultant named Fred Mann $15,000 to monitor the political leanings of guests appearing on such programs as "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS and the Diane Rehm and Tavis Smiley shows on public radio. It smacked of a blacklist.

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    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was created by Congress to be a firewall between public broadcasting and partisan politics. But Tomlinson, a Republican and former editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest, was accused of attempting to use CPB to push a right wing agenda onto the public broadcasting airwaves, threatening its editorial independence.

    (The usual full disclosure: off and on, I have worked in public broadcasting for some thirty years, often as a colleague of Mr. Moyers. Even fuller disclosure: for a year, I was a paid consultant to the video division of Reader's Digest. I cover the waterfront.)

    Tomlinson insisted that he simply was trying to insure balance, although several surveys -- including two that Tomlinson funded -- indicated that virtually none of the audience perceived any bias, and, in fact, trusted public broadcasting's credibility more than any other network's. Many, including me, called for Tomlinson's resignation.

    Since then, better times. Public broadcasting's supporters, tens of thousands of them, protested the Congressional cuts and in a landslide vote -- Democrats joined by more than 80 Republicans -- the House restored the $100 million to CPB.

    Tomlinson held on through the remainder of his two-year term as CPB chairman, but last week was forced to resign his membership on the board, several months early. His departure came in the wake of the preliminary findings of the CPB inspector general who, at the request of Congressmen John Dingell and David Obey, investigated the payment to Fred Mann, as well as other Tomlinson transactions. These include possible undue White House influence and the unauthorized hiring of two Republican lobbyists to campaign against legislation that would have expanded the CPB board to include more broadcasters. A full report is to be issued November 15.

    The CPB investigation is in tandem with a similar government investigation of Tomlinson's activities in his other job as chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the agency that oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and other United States-sponsored networks broadcasting to foreign countries.

    According to Saturday's New York Times, the investigation began at the behest of Congressman Howard Berman, who "received complaints about Mr. Tomlinson from at least one employee at the board, officials said. People involved in the inquiry said it involved accusations that Mr. Tomlinson was spending federal money for personal purposes, using board money for [CPB] activities, using board employees to do [CPB] work and hiring ghost employees or improperly qualified employees...

    "In recent weeks, State Department investigators have seized records and e-mail from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, officials said. They have shared some material with the inspector general at [CPB], including e-mail traffic between Mr. Tomlinson and White House officials including Karl Rove."

    Rove, it seems, is a close friend of Tomlinson's and, the Times noted, "played an important role in Tomlinson's appointment as chairman of the broadcasting board."

    Interesting developments, and in some ways a microcosm of the problems that in general seem to be snapping at the Bush administration's rear end.

    But public TV and radio ain't out of the woods yet, not by a long stretch. Last month, the Republican Study Committee, a group of more than 100 conservative GOP House members, proposed cutting $102.1 billion in this year's budget, including the elimination of CPB, to offset the recovery costs of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    Study Committee Chairman, Rep. Mike Pence, now says he doesn't foresee zeroing out CPB -- it's not part of either the current House or Senate budget reduction plans -- but down the road he wouldn't rule it out.

    What's more, Ken Tomlinson's ignominious departure still leaves behind a stable of similarly inclined confederates to carry on his conservative crusade. His replacement as CPB chair, real estate developer Cheryl F. Halpern, has in the past suggested that producers be penalized for any programming deemed biased by CPB, a violation of the Public Broadcasting Act. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, she and her husband, Fred, ranked among the top 100 contributors to the GOP during last year's elections, donating more than $220,000.

    Her vice chair, Gay Hart Gaines, who trained as an interior designer and is president of the Palm Beach Republican Club, was a founder and former chair of GOPAC, the political action committee that powered Newt Gingrich's 1994 "Contract with America" campaign. According to The Nation, since 1998, she and her husband have contributed half a million dollars to "GOP causes."

    (In the past, the CPB chair and vice chair have been split between a Republican and a Democrat.)

    Tomlinson also engineered the hiring of former Republican National Committee co-chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison as CPB president and CEO. Harrison, who was an assistant secretary of state and acting undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs before Bush friend Karen Hughes took over, was criticized last week by a coalition of media reform activists for bringing to CPB three associates from the State Department p.r. operation. Two of them also have been active in Republican politics and fundraising. One, Helen Mobley, worked for, the Texas-based organization that gave us male escort/phony White House reporter Jeff Gannon.

    According to Common Cause President Chellie Pingree, "The packing of CPB with individuals more comfortable with selling the United States overseas than with honest criticism of their government sends a not-so-subtle signal to those working in public broadcasting that truth is out and spin is in."

    The current situation cries out for the creation of a long-dreamed-of trust fund for public broadcasting, free of partisan interference from either side, and the adoption of several recommendations presented last week by the Association of Public Television Stations. They include increasing the size of the CPB board to include five voting ex officio members from national arts, cultural and scientific organizations; a requirement that four of the political appointments be representatives of public radio and television stations; requiring that the chair and vice chair be from different parties; fewer closed meetings of the board; and prohibiting the hiring of outside political lobbyists or consultants.

    All these proposed reforms are small, tentative steps toward an ideal, one perhaps best expressed in 1966 by the essayist E. B. White in a letter to the first Carnegie Commission on Educational Television. In words as well known to veteran public broadcasters as the Pledge of Allegiance, White wrote:

    "Non-commercial TV should address itself to the ideal of excellence, not the idea of acceptability -- which is what keeps commercial TV from climbing the staircase. I think TV should be providing the visual counterpart of the literary essay, should arouse our dreams, satisfy our hunger for beauty, take us on journeys, enable us to participate in events, present great drama and music, explore the sea and the sky and the woods and the hills.

    "It should be our Lyceum, our Chautauqua, our Minsky's, and our Camelot. It should restate and clarify the social dilemma and the political pickle. Once in a while it does, and you get a quick glimpse of its potential.

    Michael Winship, Writers Guild of America Award winner and former writer with Bill Moyers, writes for the Messenger Post Newspapers in upstate New York

    Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

    Albion Monitor November 15, 2005 (

    All Rights Reserved.

    Contact [email protected] for permission to use in any format.

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