Education: Public Broadcasting Service
Education: Public Broadcasting Service

Schools are not the only institutions capable of providing educational services.  People use the media both to teach and to learn since media services can often be more efficient and direct in reaching people.

What other benefits are associated with media-based education?  Drawbacks?

The Public Broadcasting Service, founded in 1969, is an American non-profit public broadcasting television service with member stations which hold collective ownership (PBS, 2013).  PBS averaged a 1.34 primetime rating during 2011- 2012, larger than many of the commercial channels frequently cited as competitors, including Brave (.70), TLC (.72), and Discovery Channel (.79). In a typical month almost 120 million people watch their local PBS station (PBS, 2013).

Further, PBS has benefited from growth across mobile platforms, in November 2012 Americans watched 180 million videos across all of PBS’ web and mobile platforms (PBS, 2013). While Presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned on cutting the budget for public broadcasting such as PBS, the Obama administration has not taken action in this direction.


Public broadcasting’s independence from advertising revenue makes it less susceptible to the mass market.  Therefore, it can focus on issues—such as news or education—in a more in-depth way without worrying as much about ratings.  Detractors say, however, that this makes it less responsive to what the public actually wants.

Critics of public broadcasting also say that it can too easily impose agendas on the public.  Defenders point out, however, that commercial broadcasting can convey biases as well.

Lastly, public broadcasting’s reliance on public funds irks critics who say that entities that can not fiscally survive on their own should not receive public funds.  Defenders believe that public broadcasting’s benefits are well-worth the public cost.

One of the most acclaimed programs on PBS is Sesame Street, a popular educational children’s television series.  Created in America, the show has spawned numerous international spinoffs.  The series is well-known for its use of Muppets, a type of puppet, in combining education and entertainment in clear and accessible way.  Educational goals for the program include basic letter and word recognition, basic arithmetic and geometry, problem-solving, basic life skills, exploration of emotions, socialization, and ways of handling real-world situations.

Sesame Street is often showed in classrooms.  The show also has its own website:

How has the Internet complemented the television program Sesame Street?

18 About PBS. PBS.

19 PBS: An Overview. PBS.

* Picture:


Next: The Regulation, Deregulation and Ownership of Media