Big Bird has bigger problems than Mitt Romney
While the GOP candidate may want to ax government funding for PBS, the Sesame Workshop has larger financial troubles.
"A collective stab pierced the heart of Generation X, who grew up with Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch as their best friends. I immediately thought, 'Oh no, Big Bird will be unemployed if Romney wins,'" Suzi Parker wrote in the Washington Post.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee formed "Team Big Bird" to rally the troops around public broadcasting, asking pointedly, "What did Big Bird ever do to Mitt Romney?" "Saturday Night Live" even allowed Big Bird a chance to rebut the former Massachusetts governor.
But they're missing a bigger point. Mitt Romney is not as big of a threat to Big Bird as for-profit rivals such as "Yo Gabba Gabba" and "Dora the Explorer." Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that produces "Sesame Street," gets very little direct support from the government. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded the show $1.25 million in funding through a National Program Service grant to PBS in fiscal 2011 and $1.4 million under the same program a year later, according to a CPB spokesperson. Those funds represent about 2% of Sesame Workshop's annual budget.
Sesame depends on PBS to distribute its shows and would be hurt if government funding for public television ended, as Romney and others have advocated. But PBS is just a gnat on the elephant of federal spending. Zeroing it out would not do squat to alleviate the deficit. A scaled-back PBS would prompt Sesame Workshop to find alternative routes to distribute its show, which might be more expensive and may not reach the low-income viewers the organization tries to reach. Though the organization has a licensing arm, it cannot rely solely on the private sector to fund its operations.
Though someone on Twitter created a Fired Big Bird account that has attracted more than 31,000 followers, dark clouds have been forming for a while over "Sesame Street," where the sun is always supposed to shine. Competition for the preschool market is tough and getting harder. Sesame Workshop reported a loss of more than $10.8 million in 2011. Early this year, the organization announced plans to lay off about a dozen workers, its second staff reduction since 2009.
Sesame Workshop reported more than $132 million in total operating revenue, including $46.9 million in licensing revenue for toys and other merchandise, in 2011. About 35% of its revenue comes from corporate, foundation and government support, according to its annual report, posted on its website.
Like for-profit media companies, Sesame needs to pay top dollar to attract talent. Carroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch since the show's inception, earned more than $314,000 in compensation in 2011, according to the organization's 990 form. Former Sesame Workshop head Gary Knell earned $988,456, including $270,000 in bonus and incentive compensation. Knell became the head of National Public Radio last year.
A reality check is in order. Big Bird and friends have been around for more than four decades and it will take more than a cut in government support to erase the impact they have had on generations of children. Sesame Street may be a beloved children's show but its also a big business. The show's biggest challenge is attracting young viewers who have plethora of entertainment choices. Politics is secondary.
Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr.
PBS is fractionally funded by the government. Our government must stop spending money.
If Romney said something bad about cock roaches the media would immediatley spend time and money racking Romney over it.
It's quite obvious obama is losing this race so look for the scum bag media to pull out all the stops. Even the unimaginable.
I don't know why any of these articles mention that the muppets brand was
bought out by Disney years ago and I believe just before or after the
Death of Henson. This whole Big Bird thing is another non reported
crock by the media. Disney can easily fund Sesame Street either
on this channel or move it over to the Disney channel. PBS is another
bill to the tax payer at a time where we are borrowing almost half
of every dollar spent.. Time to cut all the fat and if that means to
discontinue expenditures like this then so be it. Allow this channel to
stand on its own on donations or allow some advertisers to come and
make it economically sound.
DEAR MR BERR,
most americans like me, has more to worry about than big bird. our gas is at $5. americans were unable to find jobs, most homeowners that are in trouble, are still in trouble. most americans needs help to lower their mort interest rates and unable to get loans. we need to put food on the tables and our kids has more important needs than big bird. i can go on and on.
our deficit is at 16.3 trillions $$$. if we do not vote smart this coming nov our children's children will have to carry the burden we now face.
with that in mind, can you mr. berr, write a meaningful article that will help americans determine who best qualify to become the president of usa? for example, write about the two men. what they have accomplish in their past lives, the job they have done and the successes they have accomplished that will help determine who best lead this country? find out who is the better leader between romney and obama based on their past lives. that will do mr. berr.
you know if big bird is the only way kids can get education
then this country is in big trouble! i guess the left wing big
govt school programs aren't working too good are they?
i guess big union teachers like in chicago aren't doing
their job either like most big union teachers who can't be
fired for incompetence like Obama! finger to pbs and big bird!
Cut out all of this nonsense pork barrel- buy me a vote spending. A little here and a little cut there and all of the cuts Hollywood receives and we will be on our way to an economic recovery and Lindsay Lohan can get back to drug rehab, Paris Hilton can get back to struting around on cars naked and I can get back to figuring out how to feed my family with the taxes I will save in the coming trillon dollar inflation.
I am tired of hearing poorly educated stoned actors and actresses telling us why we should vote for their candidate. These people can't manage their own lives, why would i want there advice on how America should manage itself.
Perhaps Big Bird could pay the Government back for all the royalties they recieve from toy manufacturies.Tax payers should not subsidize.
Time for Big Bird to get a real job. That funding money can be put to better use. As many have posted there is a better way to educate instead of sitting in front of a TV at home.
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