Bob Chitester, the public TV producer famous for bringing his friend Milton Friedman's pro-capitalist series "Free to Choose" to PBS in 1980, is living proof that you don't have to be liberal or based on a seacoast to produce quality programs for PBS.
As president and founder of Free to Choose Media (www.freetochoosemedia.org), a nonprofit foundation in Erie, Pa., Chitester runs a multimedia production house that creates documentaries, classroom material featuring ABC's John Stossel and, lately, Internet content that all carry an openly pro-market, libertarian bent.
"The Ultimate Resource," currently running intermittently on the high-definition channel HDNet, is a one-hour documentary that lives up to the foundation's mission statement to explore "the concepts of freedom and wealth creation through expert storytelling and high-quality presentation."
Filmed in such exotic locales as Ghana, Peru and Estonia, it shows how the world's 4 billion poor can lift themselves out of poverty if they are given access to free markets, strong property rights protections and the rule of law. Soon to appear on PBS stations, "The Ultimate Resource" features such inventive thinkers as micro-financier Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. I talked to Chitester by telephone on Wednesday:
Q: “The Ultimate Resource” has a pretty obvious theme or message. What is it and who was it aimed at?
A: Obviously, the target for the program is the world. We began the project with the stated objective that we want to create a program that would speak to every human being on the face of the Earth. Our goal was to reinforce what most individuals believe and feel, which is that they have the capability to achieve some great things -- to achieve a life that is positive and good for them. I think most people in the world feel they can make tomorrow better than today for themselves. What we were trying to do was emphasize and focus on that, and to also point out some of the things that would stand in the way of an individual achieving that outcome.