Revelations last summer that PBS stations exchanged donor lists with Democratic political organizations triggered a new round of debate over public broadcasting. Critics question whether the Corporation for Public Broadcasting should continue to receive government subsidies when member stations receive hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate underwriting and millions more from pledge weeks and sales of books and videos. Some also question whether PBS has “sold out” its original mission of alternative programming by broadcasting more innocuous fare that attracts big corporate sponsors. Public broadcasters staunchly defend the subsidies and their programming, saying they provide a unique and valuable service in an era of multi-channel cable systems and increasingly questionable commercial TV offerings.
The long-runing “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” is among public broadcasting's most popular shows.