Amid furor over TV show, new funding for its producer
In the midst of an international uproar caused by official Saudi Arabian objections to the airing on British and American television of "Death of a Princess," a docu-drama concerning the recent execution of a Saudi princess acused of adultery, the quasi-official Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) announced it would contribute $500,000 toward the funding for another year of the series under whose aegis the program was produced.
("Princess" airs May 12 in the United States on PBS, 8-10 p.m., check local listings).
On the same day as the CPB announcement, May 8, Mobil Oil's vocal vice-president for public affairs, Herb Schmertz, bought space in major American newspapers calling on the management of Public Broadcasting Service to "review its decision to run this film and exercise responsible judgment in the light of what is in the best interest of the United States." He also made much of the fact that "congressional appropriations have indirectly made possible the television structure which helped produced and will disseminate the show."
According to Mr. Schmertz, "Other nations may not understand how one branch of government may deplore or regret a film offensive to a friendly country while another unwillingly supports it financially."
Saudi Arabia is a major source of Mobil oil supplies. Mobil, in turn, has been a major funder of PBS programming, giving more than $3 million a year for the underwriting of "Masterpiece Theatre" and other noncontroversial series.