The news in "Mister Rogers Neighborhood" has turned from bad to worse.
Last year, PBS told member stations that the program would not be included in daily syndication, but available for a la cart airings. Last week, PBS told member stations that "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" will only be available to air once weekly beginning in the fall.
"PBS is operating under very tight budget constraints and it already has a full program lineup to support Monday through Friday," said Kevin Morrison, chief operating officer for Rogers' Oakland-based Family Communications Inc. "If it was offering ‘Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' on a daily basis it would only be as an option to the existing full lineup of programs, and that option is an expensive option for them and the financial situation prevents them from making that an option."
Morrison said PBS remains supportive of the "Neighborhood," launching a revamped Web site for the show this week at the PBS Kids site.
"It's a demonstration of [PBS'] continuing commitment to keep 'Mister Rogers' on the Web," Morrison said this week. "They put a lot of time and effort into keeping that fresh and alive and it certainly looks good."
While the built out website is promising, it seems inevitable, then, that Mister Rogers will soon disappear from the broadcast landscape altogether. In this DVD and on-demand era, surely FCI has a plan in place to enable children of all ages to grow and learn under Fred's thoughtful tutelage.
Either way, Fred's disappearance from television leads me to believe that our little documentary is needed now more than ever. Luckily, we're making very slow but truly steady progress.