So you’re flipping through the channels trying to figure out what to watch on TV. Or your little ones are tuned in, as you catch bits of laughter and snatches of conversation from the next room.
It may seem like harmless entertainment. Yet, the choices we make about mass media affect our family’s purchase decisions, how we view the world, and how we talk, think and act.
Each year, independent surveys assess the value of public broadcasting compared to other media choices and public institutions. PBS commissions these surveys because they want to know what Americans really think. The results may surprise you.
Here are some interesting facts about public broadcasting, drawn largely from recent national research surveys:
In 2012, for the ninth year in a row, PBS was rated America’s most trusted institution. Three out of four people say they trust PBS either “a great deal” (26 percent) or “somewhat.” Only 13 percent expressed “a great deal” of trust in the second-most-trusted institution: courts of law.
Only military defense outranked PBS as the best value for the American tax dollar. Over two-thirds of those polled (64%) called PBS an “excellent” (20 percent) or “good” (44 percent) use of their tax dollars. Military defense was described as “excellent” or “good” by 73 percent (31 percent “excellent;” 42 percent “good”).
Americans consider PBS an “excellent” use of tax dollars.
PBS is considered the most fair network for news and public affairs. Four in 10 respondents (40 percent) called PBS’ news coverage, investigations and discussions of issues “mostly fair” (when asked to choose among “liberal,” “mostly fair” and “conservative”). PBS outscored all other sources in the “mostly fair” category, including ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX News.
A strong majority – 62 percent – named PBS KIDS the most educational TV/media brand. Second-place Disney was considered “most educational” by 13 percent.
Eighty-eight percent (88 percent) agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” that PBS “is a trusted and safe place for children to watch television.” Just over a third of respondents agreed with this statement regarding cable (34 percent) and commercial (36 percent) broadcast television.
Most respondents believed PBS programming addresses the following topics “very well” or “well.”
• Access to arts and culture – 67 percent
• Understanding of American history – 62 percent
• America’s ethnic and cultural diversity – 60 percent
• Understanding of science and technology – 60 percent
• Improve literacy – 59 percent
Access to a variety of viewpoints – 54 percent
• Important political and social issues – 51 percent
• Health issues – 51 percent
Award-winning Children’s Programming
Who’s Watching? The PBS Audience
Read the full results of the 2012 survey. How would you answer these questions? Do you agree with the majority of respondents? Why or why not?
*Information for this blog was obtained from pbs.org