TELEVISION: Mom, Apple Pie and PBS

As Republicans attack public television, its defenders talk about its programming for kids and farmers -- not opera

WHEN EXECUTIVES REPRESENTing 88 public-TV stations gathered in Washington last week to talk about the Republican-led campaign to end federal funding for the Public Broadcasting Service, they came not to praise high-toned PBS shows like Masterpiece Theatre and Live From Lincoln Center. Instead speaker after speaker trooped up to the microphone to tell stories of poor viewers in rural areas for whom PBS is a treasured companion; of fire fighters and police officers who take classes via local public-TV outlets; of children whose lives would be made joyless if such familiar PBS friends as Big Bird, Barney and Mister Rogers were...

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