I recently came across a blog post that quoted governor Romney as saying “We’re not going to kill Big Bird …But Big Bird is going to have advertisements. Alright?”
No,it’s not alright.
I’m all for commercial television (I work part-time for CBS News) but there also needs to be a place for commercial free viewing, especially for children. PBS is a nice respite from the marketing drumbeat we see and hear on all media today (including the Internet) and children need spaces where they can learn and play without having to deal with commercial pitches.
It’s kind of ironic that a would-be President would be promoting commercials on PBS at the very time when the Federal Trade Commission is increasingly cracking down on marketing to children with its revised enforcement rules for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Privacy is not just about information that flows from you to companies, but also about your ability to escape from having to consume corporate messages. For better and worse, that’s how much of the Internet and most commercial broadcasting works, but when it comes to educating our children, we need alternatives.
I want Big Bird, Elmo and even Miss Piggy and Oscar the Grouch to be thinking about the needs of the children, not the financial needs of corporate sponsors?
Disclosure: I’m an unpaid member of a PBS Kids advisory board.