WILL POLITICIANS SAVE BIG BIRD FROM THEMSELVES?
If Republican politicians are successful in their efforts to eliminate funding for public television, the Big Bird broadcasters may be able to find alternative revenue — from the politicians themselves. In a scantly reported decision, a federal appeals court in San Francisco last month overturned the federal ban on political advertising on public broadcasting stations on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment. At the time, the decision was attacked by some public-interest groups. Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press, “Viewers don’t want to see Sesame Street being brought to them by shadowy Super PACs.” But alternative sources of funds may be necessary if Republican lawmakers are successful in turning aside the $445-million request for funding by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “This is an enormous sum of money,” Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina said in a letter to Congressional colleagues. “Public media outlets are thriving.” But Free Press spokesman Josh Stearns told AdWeek that the figure represents a fraction of 1 percent of the federal budget. “Members of Congress who consider this an ‘enormous’ expense need to spend more time with the Count on Sesame Street,” he said.