The lovely and talened Willow provided today’s prompt for Just Jot It January, subscribe.
The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in the United States was formed in late 1969 and was made up of TV stations that had, up to that point, broadcasted educational programs from the National Educational Television network, including classes for which you could earn college credit. Unlike the traditional networks that pay affiliates to broadcast their programming, PBS is a program distributor that licenses content to its member stations and state networks. While PBS has a national schedule, its member stations have a lot of latitude as far as when the programs run. Member stations can also purchase content from other distributors, such as the BBC and ITV, and create programs of their own which can then be licensed by other member stations. The Blogger’s Best Friend™ has a whole article on the service.
The member stations receive most of their funding from subscribers in the community, sort of "pay TV on the honor system," as Marty Robinson, for years the voice of WTTW in Chicago, used to call it. Several times a year, the stations have pledge drives to cajole the viewing community into becoming subscribers, and show special programming that often becomes a further enticement to subscribe, as products that tie in with the program are offered as a bonus for higher pledges. For example, a station might be showing the movie The Sound Of Music during a pledge drive. During one of the many pledge breaks they take during the movie, they encourage viewers to pay the subscription price (about $50 for a year) and become a subscriber, but then they’ll offer, for a $75 pledge, a soundtrack CD, for a $100 pledge, a Blu-Ray copy of the movie, for a $125 pledge, the CD and the Blu-Ray, and for $200, you get the CD, the Blu-Ray, and your very own von Trapp child. (Well, maybe not the last one, but you get the idea.)
One of the more popular programs on WTTW from the mid-’70’s until the turn of the century was Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and in 1975 Graham Chapman and Terry Jones from the cast made several video clips to help WTTW sell subscriptions. In lieu of my usual commercial, here they are.