WOODS CROSS - It’s television for the people, by the people.
Though state and federal budgets for public television have been dropping rapidly, KUED 7 General Manager Michael Dunn believes that public television’s independence from commercial needs is more important than ever. He recently spoke to the Bountiful Rotary about how PBS serves as a break from reality television, its place in the upcoming elections, and what the station can bring to the public.
“We have real history, real drama, real art and real news,” said Dunn. “We have the luxury of treating our viewers as citizens, not just consumers.”
Dunn pointed to the channel’s recent documentary on little-known Utah icon Martha Hughes Cannon, the first female state senator elected in the United States. Her story is an example of offerings that can’t be matched by commercial television, he said.
There is also “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock,” both imports that have drawn a great deal of attention to the channel, and cultural events such as a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic on Aug. 31.
“There are so many cable channels who started out wanting to do something more educational and artistic,” said Dunn, citing examples such as A&E and the History Channel. “Now, more than 68 percent of their shows are reality television. They have to do it, because they’re beholden to advertisers. We’re not.”
On the political front, KUED offers “PBS NewsHour,” which helped make PBS the most trusted news station in a national 2011 poll by Public Policy Polling. Though Dunn mentioned that some people feel that public television has a liberal bias, he said that anyone who tries “NewsHour” will see how balanced it is.
“We don’t have an agenda,” he said, urging people to e-mail him at email@example.com if they detect a bias in either direction. “We’re operating in your public interest.”
For more information check out the August 30 edition of Davis Clipper.