by Larry Magid
Disclosure: I serve in an unpaid capacity on an advisory board for PBS Kids. This article is not urging people to vote for or against any candidate.
Twitter lit up during the first presidential debate as soon as Mitt Romney suggested cutting funding for PBS even though he’s personally fond of Big Bird. As it turns out, only about 12% of PBS’s budget comes from federal sources through the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB). The federal contribution to PBS, according to the Christian Science Monitor, is about $445 million a year or $1.35 per person. That’s less than 1/100th of 1% of the Federal budget or, as one might say, “bird seed.”
(Scroll down for video of PBS CEO Paul Kerger’s response to Romney’s comments)
According to a website posted by PBS, the TV network is “watched on TV by 236 million Americans annually.” It adds, “in a month, Americans stream 145 milion videos on PBS’s Web and mobile platforms.”
Big Bird is far from the only children’s star who would be threatened if PBS were to disappear. His show, Sesame Street, is one of several popular shows watched by millions of children in the U.S. and across the world. Other PBSKids shows and web properties include Dr. Seuss’s Cat In The Hat, Arthur and the newest program, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which is produced in cooperation with the Fred Rogers Company.
And this isn’t just about TV. PBS Kids publishes games, websites, smartphone apps and other learning resources for children.
Neither Big Bird nor I endorse political candidates but both of us have a keen interest in quality public television, websites and apps for adults and children.