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PBS station cancels
intelligent-design film

Posted By Ron Strom On 01/05/2005 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled

The PBS station in Albuquerque, N.M., has canceled a scheduled showing of a documentary on the theory of intelligent design, eliciting charges of “politically correct censorship.”

New Mexico teacher Phil Robinson says he worked with staff at KNME-TV to arrange for the documentary, “Unlocking the Mystery of Life,” to air on Friday night. Robinson discovered Monday that the show had been pulled and newspaper advertising for it had been canceled.

The station says the scheduling of the program was a mistake caused by a miscommunication related to the transition to a new program manager and that there was concern about the fact that those who funded the film have religious ties.

Seattle-based Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture hammered KNME for the cancellation.

“It is simply astounding that a public television station would engage in this sort of politically correct censorship,” said Rob Crowther, director of communications for the organization, in a statement. “Public television usually prides itself in exploring new ideas, not suppressing them. Doesn’t anyone at KNME believe in free speech?”

Joan Rebecchi is the marketing manager for KNME.

“It wasn’t supposed to be scheduled in the first place,” she told WND. “It was a scheduling mistake.

“We’re in transition between two program managers, and they were repeating ‘NOVA’ in that timeslot. … There was confusion over the show title, and so that show was scheduled in [NOVA's] place. It was figured out last weekend that we had that scheduled and we weren’t supposed to schedule it.”

Rebecchi said Robinson contacted her about advertising for the show and that she helped him write a good ad for it, not realizing at the time the show was not supposed to have been scheduled.

“When I found out the show in fact wasn’t going to air, I pulled the ads from the Albuquerque Journal because I didn’t want him to lose any money,” Rebecchi said. “We were able to pull them before he lost any money.”

Rebecchi confirmed that a lot of Albuquerque residents are “very, very upset” that the station is not running it.

She said station personnel had concerns about the fact that those who funded the program “had some connection to a religious point of view.”

Continued Rebecchi: “Our underwriting guidelines don’t allow us to air programs that have a specific religious point of view,” adding that PBS has to be “kind of biased” against programming with any religious connections.

“That’s the reason they didn’t want to schedule it in the first place,” she told WND.

Crowther points out, however, that the film in question is currently for sale on PBS’ national website and has aired in almost every top-20 media market in the country, including PBS stations in California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

“The real losers here are New Mexico viewers who will be denied the chance to see a fascinating documentary that public television viewers in other states have already had the opportunity to see,” Crowther added. “I guess if New Mexico viewers want to learn more about intelligent design, they will have to go the national PBS website.”

“Unlocking the Mystery of Life” is a 58-minute program exploring what DNA reveals about the origin of life and documents how some scientists are skeptical about naturalistic explanations for the origin of genetic information and are looking to theories of design instead. According to the Discovery Institute, the documentary follows the development of intelligent design theory through interviews with key design scientists.



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