How Will Cookie Monster Eat?

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Is public broadcasting worth the buck? People who work in communications are wondering as the Senate is currently discussing ending funding for the endeavor. $400 million which bankrolls the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is in question as they consider whether the federal funds will continue or not. PBS relies heavily on this funding as well as viewer support to allow access to commercial free programming across the country.

Sesame Street actors have joined union workers and activist groups in Washington to bring familiar faces to their cause. As members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Emilio Delgado (Luis) Roscoe Orman (Gordon) and Bob McGrath (Bob) are protesting the cuts and hoping to inform lawmakers on the importance of non-commercial television. Bringing with them petitions with over 1.2 million signatures, they want to convince the Senate to fully fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Senate members aren’t budging on the budget cuts though. “Shows like 'Sesame Street' are multi-million-dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market,” say Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) who makes it clear how he feels about what he calls the Muppet Lobby. "When taxpayer funding for public broadcasting ends, rest assured, Cookie Monster will still be fed."

Shows like Sesame Street could survive the cuts based on Elmo’s royalties alone and transition to other channels. By changing the channel however it changes the show’s content and accountability. Allowing commercial sponsorship means Cookie Monster could be chomping down some Chips Ahoy or Ernie insists on using Mr. Bubble in his bubble bath.

Eliminating public broadcasting limits the only access some kids have to programming on free TV. It means there is no escape from the constant commercialism and media bombardment advertisers are trying to brand on children’s brains to create a loyalty that will last even longer.

Studies have deemed direct advertising to children under the age of 6 psychologically damaging. It is considered morally unethical and in some cases illegal but many companies try to blur that line. Selling short the non-profit organizations that “just say no” to advertisers will only make the distinction more distorted.

As a child I grew up on PBS and I brought my children up the same way. Commercial free TV and public broadcasting are important to me, which is why I get my tote bag at telethon time.

What do you think? Should the government fund public broadcasting? Let me know in the comments below.

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By Heather Fairchild - Heather is a multimedia developer with experience in web, film, photography and animation as well as traditional fine arts like painting and sculpting. In addition to writing for, she is co-founder of design and promotion company, Creative Kazoo with fellow Nexxt blogger, Staci Dennis. Heather’s spare time consists of making puppets, teaching Sunday School, building Legos and doing science experiments with her children.

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