Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Learning Channel: No Longer Educational

Unbelievably, the channel currently known as TLC was once dedicated to actual learning. Started as a free service in 1970 by NASA and the Department of Education, the channel featured educational programming and scientific documentaries. In 1980, the channel was privatized, but it still sought to present intriguing, educational programming.

During the 1980's and 90's, politicians who attacked PBS pointed to The Learning Channel as an example of private industry taking care of educational programming. Right around the late 1990's the network began referring to itself as TLC and began its eventual slide. At first, its reality programming had a bit of education attached to it. Soon all pretenses of "learning" were thrown out the window. Once held up as a model of privatization taking care of educational television efficiently, it soon became a cautionary lesson. Imagine if PBS had been abolished and this was the only "educational" programming available?