Wednesday, June 15, 2005

House Republicans give Big Bird "la Louisette"

Republicans voted last week to give Big Bird the guillotine. The House Appropriations subcommittee approved the biggest cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in the organization's history!

The bill will cut $300 million from the $400 million CPB budget, in addition to cutting $39 million in funding to convert stations to digital programming and $50 million to upgrade old satellite technology. The bill will also totally eliminate $23 million for children's shows that include "Sesame Street," "Clifford the Big Red Dog," "Between the Lions" and "Dragon Tales."

The public broadcasting cuts come in the wake of partisan actions by Ken Tomlinson, the Republican chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to make public broadcasting programs more favorable to Republicans.

When the Bush administration finally gets away with its lies, we'll all be drafted to fight a perpetual world war, the rich will be richer and will pay no taxes, the poor and middle class will be debt slaves, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will be serving Big Bird for dinner.

Despite Tomlinson's complaints that PBS programs are biased, a wide majority of citizens believe public broadcasting provides programs that are more balanced and trustworthy than commercial broadcasters provide. That faith in public broadcasting may be misguided, thinks William Hoynes. He argued in Newsday last week that, if anything, PBS has become too commercial, failing in its mission to offer an alternative to commercial broadcasting:

On PBS today, children are sold breakfast cereal and fruit juice, among other products, before and after each of the daytime kids’ programs. And these programs serve as daily advertisements for their own repertoire of licensed products, from toothbrushes to computer games. The business programs all are directed at investors, covering the economy through a narrow corporate lens. And news programs feature the same elite talking heads who appear regularly on commercial television news. ...

Studies of public television over the last decade show that Tomlinson's charges of liberal bias are off the mark. In contrast to conservative claims that public television routinely features the voices of anti-establishment critics, scholarly research shows that alternative perspectives are rare on public television, and are effectively drowned out by the stream of government, expert, and corporate views that represent the vast majority of sources on public television programs. These bias charges only reinforce the idea that public television is better off playing it safe.

My previous posts on this topic:
PBS under attack

Who is this guy?

People Get Ready on WTUL today (May 26, 2005)

Decolonize your mind

Pissed? Contact your members of Congress. Better yet, go to and respond to their call for action to save PBS:
Contact the House to put a stop to efforts to "defund" public broadcasting.

Sign Free Press' petition calling for town hall meetings and Tomlinson's resignation.

Write the editor of your local newspaper to save public broadcasting from political interference.

Join the Action Squad to meet activists in your community.

Contribute to the Free Press Action Fund.

Then, if you have any time to kill, you might entertain yourself by giving a verbal flogging to an effing right-wing nut job over at PBS Watch.

Finally, in my digging around for this post, I found a great archive of old Sesame Street photos. How many out there remember when Oscar the Grouch was ORANGE!

And thanks to whoever it is over at LO2 for the Big Bird dinner picture (there are a bunch more fun images there).


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