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For the week of January 31 through February 6, 2001

Don’t pull the plug

Idaho Public Television glues this 480-mile-long, axe-shaped state together like a piece of string through a macaroni necklace. Yet, despite its service to the people of Idaho, self-appointed censors are making a grab for the remote. They want to kill IPTV.

Why? Precisely because they cannot personally censor it.

The uproar began last year after a late-night broadcast of an educational program that dealt with homosexuality. Some legislators objected and banded together to try to pull the plug under the thinly veiled guise of "privatizing" IPTV.

A consulting firm hired to review the potential for privatization of IPTV recently advised the Legislature that the public station will not survive without state funds. The firm found that compared to other public systems, IPTV is enormously successful in raising private funds, but that without the 28 percent of operations plus equipment funded by the state, it will die.

That would be just fine with state Sen. Robert Lee of Rexburg. Last week, he launched an angry attack on IPTV for a scene in The American by Henry James. The scene showed actors in bed under a sheet. It was aired at 9 p.m. with a "parental guidance" notice.

Offended red-faced senators notwithstanding, Idaho gets more than its money’s worth.

IPTV is the only broadcast service dedicated to bringing to this isolated state the best of the outside world. It has brought a state that too often regarded ignorance as a virtue into the world of art and ideas—even (gasp!) ideas with which some may disagree.

It is no exaggeration to say that without IPTV residents will be deprived.

We may never hear of, let alone see, the next Pavarotti. We will be cut out of much of the national discussion of our country’s own history and current affairs. We will have no common place to hear discussions of statewide issues. The cartoon channel will suddenly become children’s programming in Idaho.

If the Idaho Legislature pulls the plug on IPTV, voters should return the favor to the small-minded censors in the next election.


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