PBS goes to war


PBS has cleared its programming decks March 17 for two specials on the
looming war with Iraq.

The 17th was initially to have been the Bush administration's deadline for
disarmament or war, but a recent campaign to line up U.N. Security Council votes
appears to have pushed back the deadline.

In any event, PBS is slating a two-hour Frontline special, The Long
Road to War
, followed by a one-hour What's Next for Iraq: A Now with Bill Moyers Special Edition.

The latter program includes an examination of the media's war coverage so
far, a topic the PBS release on the specials introduced with the observation
that "some critics say the major news networks have marketed the war as if it's
the latest reality TV program, branding and promoting it to increase ratings."

Earlier this week, Corporation for Public Broadcasting president Robert
Coonrod pushed for government funding for noncommercial stations with the argument that with
the commercial networks consumed by reality TV, noncommercial programming is a
necessary alternative.