Wednesday, January 09, 2008

As seen on PBS... except in California, that is

Like many Catholics, I suppose, I was genuinely excited to learn from EWTN that the new Christmas cantata The Birth of Christ was being picked up by PBS. What a coup!

Or so it seemed, until I tried to find out when it was going to be broadcast here on one of our two big PBS affiliates in the San Francisco Bay area. Which turned out to be: never.

Oh, it apparently aired on tiny KRCB, which serves the Santa Rosa / Napa Valley area north of the main urban centers of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose. And you were in luck if you lived in the Fresno / Visalia region, out in the hinterlands of the largely agricultural Central Valley.

In other words, if you lived where 75% of the population lives out here, you could just forget it.

Which I might have guessed. The folks who are directing the operations of KQED in San Francisco and KCET in Los Angeles really don't want either the theological message of the cantata, or its social message (Catholic and Protestant choirs in Ireland putting aside their differences and joining forces for the performance). After all, a program like this, produced with very high aesthetic, musical and technical production values, doesn't reinforce the impression of Christianity that the PBS stations here want to convey to their viewers. No dark-robed Inquisitors, crazed albino monks, or slimy televangelists in it, for starters.

So I took the money I was going to send to KQED to reward them for picking up the program, and bought several copies of the DVD to give out instead.

Hey, PBS! Interested in getting me back as a subscriber (which I haven't been for 20 years)? Don't call me; I'll call you.