Virginia politics, policy and entertainment from the Greater Richmond-Washington Metro Area perspective.

Dems, PBS Once Again Claim Republicans Want To Kill Big Bird

Geez, if you believed what Washington, DC’s PBS affiliate WETA was saying about the Republican House cutting funds for public broadcasting, you’d think this is the future of Sesame Street –

Without federal funding, the muppets will have to eat Big Bird to survive…

Folks, that isn’t going to happen.  Following is an “action alert” that WETA has posted on their website.  Most of the text here is the same verbiage used in TV spots airing on the “WETA Kids” channel, typically shown between episodes of “Super WHY!” and “Arthur.” (They’re trying to market this to young kids so they’ll think Republicans are mean, bad people who want to take Big Bird away from them.)

Your opinion matters. Call your Congressional Representative now to express your opinion on federal funding for the educational programs and services public broadcasting shares nationwide.

The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote in the next few days on legislation that would cut 100 percent of federal funding for public broadcasting. These proposed cuts pose a significant threat to WETA and public broadcasting as a whole. The direct impact on WETA would be the annual loss of $5.2 million in funding, which would be felt deeply by the audiences we serve.

The loss of this key funding will affect WETA’s ability to bring you and all our viewers and listeners throughout Greater Washington the programs you rely on and enjoy, from Sesame StreetSuper WHY!PBS NewsHourWashington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal and documentaries by Ken Burns toNatureNOVAAmerican ExperienceAntiques Roadshow,Masterpiece and Doc Martin.

WETA is your source for classical music, Washington Week, Doc Martin, Ken Burns, Ernie, and Sherlock Holmes, among other great shows and programming.

The cuts also threaten Classical WETA 90.9 FM, the exclusive home for classical music in the nation’s capital, and WETA’s ability to provide multimedia literacy projects that serve children and adults throughout Greater Washington and the nation.

Please Act Now

We urge all WETA supporters to contact your representatives in Congress to let them know how you feel about the proposed cuts that would eliminate funding for public broadcasting. Because of the timely nature of the impending vote, the most effective way to get your message to your representative is by calling his/her office. Sending a personalized email is also effective.

Please call now, before the House votes — and please share this with others like you who care deeply about WETA and public broadcasting.

Thank you.

As Jim Geraghty notes in his “Campaign Spot” piece, the Dems have now trotted out Arthur who Geraghty proceeded to point out has some pretty big corporate sponsors for his show already including Chuck E. Cheese, Juicy Juice, McDonalds and CVS.  (But don’t confuse those “Proud Sponsor” spots for commercials even though they build brand identity with kids!)

Now for the ironic part of all this.  The Daily Caller reports on the House Dems’ press conference attacking Republicans on this.

The members stood behind dolls of Sesame Street’s Big Bird, Grover and Elmo. Behind them, House aides held up signs showing Bert and Ernie being handed a letter that reads, “GOPink Slip: You are fired,” and another that showed cartoon characters being tossed away from a scale weighed down by “Big Oil.”

“We’re here to create jobs, not lay off Bert and Ernie,” said Rep. Nita Lowey of New York.

Let me highlight the ironic part of this.

The members stood behind dolls of Sesame Street’s Big Bird, Grover and Elmo.

Dolls of Big Bird, Grover and Elmo.  Do you have any idea just how big the merchandise licensing is from Sesame Street alone?  I’ve got two kids, so I have a fairly good idea.  Stuffed animals, toys, books, videos, CDs, touring stage/ice shows, even a freakin’ amusement park!  (I remember having a Bert puppet back when I was a kid myself in the ’70s.)  Does “Tickle Me Elmo” ring any bells for people?  People were getting into fights over those just before Christmas 1996.

Sesame Street has been around for more than 40 years and that name has become a gold standard among parents and grandparents.  Trust me, Sesame Street does not need to be subsidized by federal funding.  If anything, it is time that Big Bird started carrying all of his own weight (which is considerable given the big fat wallet he must have.)

While not the same commercial merchandising powerhouse that Sesame Street is, many of the other PBS programs that the whiners claim are going to vanish if PBS no longer receives federal funding also have their own such revenue streams that they generate on the taxpayers’ dime.  Heck you can buy Ken Burns’ documentaries on DVD from, wait for it, PBS Home Video.

It is time to call out these hypocrites at PBS and in Congress on this once and for all.

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7 Responses to “Dems, PBS Once Again Claim Republicans Want To Kill Big Bird”

  1. Phil Chroniger

    I never understood how PBS can claim to have no money when they have such big-money sponsors as well as programs like the ones on PBS kids that have fairly lucrative merchandise sales. I know that Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, and other shows have toys, books, and other merchandise that sell well. So I call BS on this, as well.

    Even if it would hurt them, those sponsors know that affiliating themselves with PBS is “prestige” (in their eyes, at least), and I’m sure they’d do some slight renegotiations to their sponsorships to cover the difference.

    Maybe they could stand to trim back their budget. First proposal – axe Frontline.

  2. Rtwng Extrmst

    So that means they must be using the corporate dollars to fund the advocacy ads. Isn’t that the same kind of logic that got Tom Delay convicted? If it worked for him, why not PBS?

    Public funding for television and radio is just not needed today. Their whole budget should be zero’d.

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